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OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … Co-ops pay tribute to<br />

the Queen ... a report from the<br />

international Co-op Housing<br />

Symposium ... More changes<br />

at the top for the Co-op Group<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

770009 982010<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />


coffee@revolver.coop<br />

www.revolverworld.com<br />



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Co-ops and their communities<br />

brace for the energy crisis<br />




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cooperativenews<br />

CBP013875<br />

With soaring energy bills adding to the cost of living crisis around the world,<br />

we have taken a closer look at its impact on co-operatives.<br />

Among the worst hit are small co-ops in the food sector, with co-op grocers<br />

like Wild Thyme Wholefoods in Portsmouth and Rice up Wholefoods in<br />

Southampton forced to close (p40-41). Community pubs such as the Bevy in<br />

Brighton are trying to address business challenges while supporting local<br />

communities through lunch clubs and free kids’ activities (p38-39).<br />

Larger co-op retailers in the UK and beyond have launched initiatives<br />

to support members, customers and employees with rising costs – with<br />

discounts on essential products, employee bonuses and free meals<br />

(p42-43). Meanwhile Co-op Group members and customers are being<br />

invited to take part in Join in Live, a national conversation about policy and<br />

priorities in these challenging times (p44-45).<br />

Paul Gosling explores how credit unions act as alternatives to high-cost<br />

payday lenders, with membership rising to an all-time high of 1.93 million<br />

(p36-37). Credit unions are also joining efforts with charities to provide free<br />

financial training (p34-35).<br />

We also look at how co-ops are retrofitting homes by providing site analysis,<br />

renovations, guidance and funding (p32-33) – and at the impact of the<br />

energy crisis on energy co-ops and their members (p30-31).<br />

The crisis comes on top of existing problems. In Jackson, Mississippi, where<br />

residents were left without drinking water, a network of worker co-ops is<br />

proposing co-op solutions to empower the local community (p28-29).<br />

In Zurich, co-ops already offer solutions to housing shortages, with co-op<br />

providers accounting for 25% of apartments in the city. The international coop<br />

housing movement met in the Swiss capital to explore how others might<br />

learn from its pioneering initiatives (p26-27). And we take a look at a slice<br />

of housing co-op history, with a project designed by Antoni Gaudi (p46-47).<br />

In the news, we have a special report on how co-ops paid tribute to Queen<br />

Elizabeth II after her death (p6-7).<br />

Co-ops can and do make a difference in many sectors. Yet, as the crisis<br />

accentuates, many will need adequate regulatory frameworks and financial<br />

support to continue their positive work.<br />


Co-operative News is printed using vegetable oil-based inks<br />

on 80% recycled paper (with 60% from post-consumer waste)<br />

with the remaining 20% produced from FSC or PEFC certified<br />

sources. It is made in a totally chlorine free process.<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 3

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />



Co-ops pay tribute to the Queen (p6-7);<br />

European co-ops respond to Ursula von<br />

der Leyen’s State of the Union speech<br />

(p14); the co-op connections of architect<br />

Antoni Gaudi (p46-48); community pub<br />

the Bevy continues its efforts through<br />

the cost-of-living crisis (p38-39);<br />

Lambeth GP Food Co-op garden (p22-23)<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … Co-ops pay tribute to<br />

the Queen ... a report from the<br />

international Co-op Housing<br />

Symposium ... More changes<br />

at the top for the Co-op Group<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

£4.20<br />

COVER: Co-operation Jackson<br />

The US worker co-op network takes<br />

action on the water crisis in its home city<br />

Read more: p28-29<br />

22-23 MEET ...EDWARD ROSEN<br />

Project director, Lambeth GP Food Co-op<br />


of this month’s event<br />


Report from the conference of the world’s<br />

housing co-ops in Zurich<br />


Co-operation Jackson takes a stand<br />

against infrastructure neglect in the US city<br />

30-43 ENERGY CRISIS<br />

With soaring fuel prices threatening<br />

economies and living standards around<br />

the world, how are co-ops responding?<br />

30-31 ENERGY CO-OPS<br />

Reaction from some key players in the<br />

sector as energy bills soar<br />


Co-ops take the lead in retrofitting the<br />

UK’s draughty housing stock<br />


Anca Voinea takes a look at the sector’s<br />

response to the crisis, followed by<br />

analysis from Paul Gosling<br />


Brighton community pub The Bevy is<br />

stepping up its local support work<br />


Worker co-ops in the independent food<br />

retail sector face a perfect storm of rising<br />

costs and falling trade<br />


A look at what co-ops are doing to help<br />

workers and members through the crisis<br />


A preview of the Join In Live events – in<br />

London, Glasgow and online – where the<br />

retailer will discuss the way forward with<br />

its members<br />

46-48 GAUDI’S CO-OP VISION<br />

The architect, famed for his church<br />

buildings, also designed a community<br />

building for co-op workers in Catalonia<br />


5-13 UK news<br />

14-21 Global news<br />

24 Letters<br />

50 Events<br />

4 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

NEWS<br />

RETAIL<br />

Management shake-up at Co-op Group as food chief Whitfield quits<br />

The Co-op Group has announced a new<br />

leadership structure for its convenience<br />

and wholesale operations.<br />

The announcement comes as Food CEO<br />

Jo Whitfield revealed her decision to leave<br />

the business, after five years in the role<br />

and six years overall at the Group.<br />

Whitfield announced a four-month<br />

career break in February to help her sons<br />

with their GCSEs and A Levels.<br />

Matt Hood, former commercial director<br />

at the Group, will become managing<br />

director of Co-op Food, responsible for<br />

both the commercial and operational<br />

areas of the business.<br />

Michael Fletcher who has led the<br />

Group-owned wholesale arm Nisa, is also<br />

stepping down from his role and Peter<br />

Batt, a former managing director of Coop’s<br />

regional stores in the south, has been<br />

appointed managing director of Nisa.<br />

Group chair Allan Leighton said: “Jo has<br />

decided that this is the right time to move<br />

on and pursue her next challenge.<br />

“During her time with us, Jo has led<br />

a re-invention of our Food business.<br />

She always put colleagues first and<br />

championed colleague safety. She leaves<br />

the Co-op with our warmest wishes and<br />

deepest thanks for everything she has<br />

delivered for our colleagues, members<br />

and customers.”<br />

CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “I wish to<br />

express my thanks to Jo for all that she has<br />

achieved and wish her all the best in the<br />

next chapter of her career.<br />

“I am delighted to announce that Matt is<br />

our new managing director of Co-op Food<br />

with both the commercial and operational<br />

areas reporting into him and he will<br />

ensure we remain leaders in convenience.<br />

p Jo Whitfie d is leaving the Group after ix years<br />

We have an incredibly strong team, an<br />

established position to build from and<br />

the hunger and opportunity to achieve so<br />

much more in the years ahead.”<br />

She added: “Michael Fletcher is also<br />

leaving his role as Nisa CEO in early<br />

<strong>October</strong> and will then pursue a new career<br />

path, supporting multiple businesses. He<br />

leaves behind a huge legacy.<br />

“Peter Batt will take over from Michael<br />

with immediate effect to allow a managed<br />

handover with Michael. Peter has<br />

extensive experience in retail and trading,<br />

having been our divisional managing<br />

director in the south, and brings with<br />

him both commercial and operational<br />

experience from his roles outside Co-op.<br />

“I have the utmost confidence that Peter<br />

will hit the ground running to support our<br />

Nisa partners.”<br />

Forecourts sold<br />

In other news from the Group, it was<br />

announced at the end of August that it is<br />

selling its petrol forecourt estate to Asda<br />

for £600m.<br />

The transaction, due to complete by<br />

the end of the year, will involve 129 petrol<br />

forecourt sites throughout the UK, which<br />

represents 5% of the organisation’s estate<br />

of 2,564 stores.<br />

“This transaction is in line with our<br />

strategy to move away from operating<br />

petrol forecourts and supports our vision<br />

of ‘Co-operating for a fairer world’ while<br />

building our core leading convenience<br />

business,” said Khoury-Haq.<br />

“I would like to thank our incredible<br />

colleagues in these stores, and we will<br />

work closely with Asda to ensure a smooth<br />

transition.”<br />

Asda will pay £438m in cash and take<br />

on responsibility for the Group’s lease<br />

payments which total about £162m.<br />

Around 2,300 Co-op petrol station staff<br />

will be moved to Asda’s employment.<br />

Asda said the purchase is part of plans<br />

to move into the convenience market,<br />

feeding in to its “long-term ambition<br />

to become the UK’s second-largest<br />

supermarket”.<br />

The Group said the sale of non-core<br />

petrol forecourt businesses will enable it<br />

to “focus on core convenience proposition<br />

whilst significantly deleveraging and<br />

strengthening the Group’s balance sheet”.<br />

It added that proceeds from the sale<br />

will be reinvested in the core convenience<br />

business and its growing wholesale,<br />

franchise and e-commerce operations,<br />

including new stores in the heart of more<br />

communities.<br />

It will also be invested in the<br />

organisation’s pricing, store operations,<br />

technology, and logistics, and support the<br />

reduction of the Group’s net debt.<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 5


Co-ops pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II<br />

Co-operators in the UK were among those<br />

sending condolences to the Royal Family<br />

following the death last month of Her<br />

Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.<br />

The Queen, who died on 8 September<br />

aged 96, had visited Rochdale in 1994 for<br />

the 150th anniversary of the founding of<br />

the Rochdale Pioneers’ Toad Lane store.<br />

“The Queen and Prince Philip both<br />

went to the exhibition held at what is now<br />

Touchstones, which was up for the whole<br />

p Home Magazine – Editor’s letter on the<br />

occasion of the Queen’s coronation (Image:<br />

Co-operative Heritage Trust)<br />

year, with information and activities<br />

about the development of the co-operative<br />

movement,” says Gillian Lonergan, co-op<br />

historian. “It was decided that they should<br />

go to Touchstones as there was more space<br />

for people to gather and meet them rather<br />

than at Toad Lane; the necessary security<br />

precautions precluded visiting both sites.”<br />

The Queen also visited Manchester<br />

in 2013, when she officially opened the<br />

Co-operative Group’s new head office at<br />

One Angel Square – which at the time<br />

was the greenest building in the world.<br />

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh,<br />

the Queen toured the building before<br />

unveiling a plaque to mark the formal<br />

opening of the 14-storey building and<br />

signing the visitor’s book. Prince Philip<br />

had opened the CIS building in 1962.<br />

“On behalf of the Co-op Group I would<br />

like to offer our deepest condolences to<br />

the Royal Family, following the news<br />

about the passing of Her Royal Highness,<br />

the Queen,” wrote Group CEO, Shirine<br />

Khoury-Haq, on Twitter. “Our thoughts<br />

are with the Royal Family, and we join<br />

all others who will be reflecting on her<br />

historic reign.”<br />

Tributes were paid by other cooperative<br />

retail societies including<br />

Midcounties Co-operative and Central<br />

England Co-operative, while the Coop<br />

Party announced it would suspend<br />

p The CWS celebrates the Queen’s coronation<br />

(Image: Co-operative Heritage Trust)<br />

all campaign activity and events until<br />

further notice as a mark of respect.<br />

“We are deeply saddened to hear of<br />

the passing of Her Majesty the Queen,”<br />

said Jim McMahon MP, chair of the Cooperative<br />

Party.<br />

“She has served our country with<br />

distinction over the past 70 years, and in<br />

the coming days, our nation will come<br />

together to mourn and remember her<br />

extraordinary contribution to British life. I<br />

send the thoughts and condolences of our<br />

Party and our movement to her family.”<br />

Rose Marley, Co-operatives UK CEO,<br />

said: “Queen Elizabeth II had an affinity<br />

and connection with co-operatives ... Like<br />

co-operatives, Her Royal Highness had<br />

an enduring presence and adaptability -<br />

the ability to reinvent oneself even as the<br />

world transforms around you.<br />

“Her staying power; her dignity; her<br />

quiet effectiveness... Her Royal Highness,<br />

Queen Elizabeth II was a low-key, but<br />

u The Queen opening One Angel Square,<br />

home of the Co-operative Group’s<br />

headquarters, in 2013 (Im age: the<br />

Co-operative Group)<br />

t The Queen on a visit to Rochdale in 1994<br />

(Image: Co-operative Heritage Trust)<br />

6 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

unifying force across the UK. She will be<br />

missed by many but not forgotten.”<br />

It was a co-operative – St Cuthbert’s<br />

Co-operative Association, now part of<br />

Scotmid – which held the royal warrant<br />

for coachbuilding from the mid 1960s,<br />

working on the royal coaches.<br />

And it was a co-operative which<br />

received one of the final Queen’s Awards<br />

issued before she died.<br />

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire<br />

presented the Queen’s Award for<br />

Enterprise for Sustainable Development<br />

to the Southern Co-op in early September,<br />

on behalf of the Queen, dressed in full<br />

uniform complete with ceremonial sword.<br />

Southern Co-op, which operates<br />

convenience food stores, coffee shops<br />

and funeral services across the south of<br />

England, is currently working to cut direct<br />

and indirect greenhouse gas emissions<br />

from the business by 2030. The work is<br />

supported by the co-op through a climate<br />

action pathway of planned activity and an<br />

initial investment of £5.8m.<br />

The Queen’s Awards, which have been<br />

running for 56 years, give recipients the<br />

ability to use the Queen’s Awards Emblem<br />

for the next five years. Winners were<br />

personally approved by the Queen.<br />

The Co-operative Heritage Trust<br />

has shared a number of items from its<br />

collection to pay tribute, including a<br />

commemorative tin produced by the<br />

CWS Confectionery works to mark her<br />

coronation in 1953, and a special <strong>edition</strong><br />

of The Co-operative Home Magazine,<br />

produced by the CWS.<br />

“We are saddened to hear that Queen<br />

Elizabeth II, our longest reigning monarch<br />

has passed away,” said a statement<br />

from the Trust. “We wanted to share<br />

this sentiment from the editor of the Cooperative<br />

Home Magazine in volume 58<br />

published for the coronation in 1953.<br />

‘We respectfully extend to Queen<br />

Elizabeth the Second, the earnest hope that<br />

she will enjoy a long and happy reign in<br />

an era of lasting world peace and human<br />

progress.’<br />

“During the Queen’s reign a lot has<br />

happened in our movement and in the<br />

fabric of the nation. Her Majesty’s passing<br />

marks the end of the Elizabethan era<br />

and as such we would like to extend our<br />

condolences to her family and those in<br />

mourning for their head of state.<br />

“Moments like this bring people and<br />

communities together, which is what our<br />

movement is all about.”<br />

Her Majesty’s<br />

passing marks<br />

the end of an era<br />

... Moments like<br />

this bring people<br />

and communities<br />

together, which is<br />

what our movement<br />

is all about<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 7


Liz Truss announces support measures on energy costs – but could<br />

co-operative values offer more effective solutions?<br />

As the government begins to assemble<br />

support packages for households and<br />

businesses struggling to cope with soaring<br />

energy bills, the co-op movement has<br />

been among those calling for equitable<br />

and effective solutions.<br />

It comes at a critical time for the sector,<br />

with Co-operatives UK, the apex body<br />

for the UK’s 7,000 independent co-ops,<br />

reporting that 25% of its members are<br />

concerned for their survival over the<br />

next 12 months, with 5% approaching<br />

such a crisis point that they could cease<br />

operating within the next three months.<br />

Support measures<br />

With the Conservative leadership question<br />

resolved after a lengthy election process<br />

and Liz Truss moving into Downing Street,<br />

the government announced a freeze<br />

on domestic energy bills and a £40bn<br />

funding package for businesses.<br />

With the business sector urgently<br />

calling for more help, business secretary<br />

Jacob Rees-Mogg announced the Energy<br />

Bill Relief Scheme, which will provide a<br />

discount on wholesale gas and electricity<br />

prices for all non-domestic customers.<br />

This will include all UK businesses, the<br />

voluntary sector – such as charities – and<br />

the public sector, including schools and<br />

hospitals. This support will be equivalent<br />

to measures put in place for households.<br />

Co-operatives UK is writing to Truss<br />

to ensure that the co-op sector is “fully<br />

included and effectively supported in any<br />

action for businesses, along with all other<br />

social enterprise, community businesses<br />

and charities affected by the energy<br />

price shock”. James Wright, policy and<br />

development lead, added that members<br />

are particularly calling for action to limit<br />

prices for non-domestic energy customers.<br />

Wright said: “Our latest data adds<br />

to evidence that to do otherwise risks<br />

a ‘doom-loop’ of destitution, corporate<br />

insolvency, high unemployment and<br />

wasted potential.”<br />

Co-operatives UK surveyed its members<br />

and found that:<br />

• Half of responding co-operatives, which<br />

together employ more than 85,000<br />

people, are severely impacted<br />

p Liz Truss during the leadership campaign (Image: John Snelling/Getty)<br />

• 25% are concerned about their survival<br />

in the next 12 months<br />

• 5% are concerned about their survival<br />

in the next three months<br />

• 28% of co-operatives find their ability<br />

to create value for members/customers/<br />

communities in a financially sustainable<br />

way is severely undermined.<br />

The “ability and potential of these<br />

businesses to create and sustain decent<br />

livelihoods, expand opportunity and<br />

benefit communities across the UK, is<br />

jeopardised,” warns Wright in an online<br />

statement for Co-operatives UK.<br />

“Co-operatives are an essential part of<br />

the social economy our communities rely<br />

on in hard times,” he added. “Of the cooperatives<br />

who tell us they are severely<br />

affected, 60% are currently active in<br />

the mutual aid response to the social<br />

emergency and are looking to ramp up<br />

such activities over the winter, subject to<br />

their own financial sustainability.<br />

“What’s more, co-operatives offer<br />

excellent prospects for growing a stronger,<br />

fairer, greener UK economy. We cannot<br />

afford to lose these co-operatives now. The<br />

new prime minister must take immediate<br />

and effective action to prevent permanent<br />

damage to businesses, including co-ops.”<br />

Rees-Mogg’s announcement of<br />

support for businesses helps to address<br />

these concerns. Tony Armstrong, CEO<br />

of community business support body<br />

Locality, said: “This scheme will help<br />

many local community organisations<br />

facing the double whammy of soaring<br />

energy bills and rapidly rising demand for<br />

their services.<br />

“These are the organisations providing<br />

the essential spaces and support<br />

communities will need to get through this<br />

hardest of winters – everything from debt<br />

advice and health services to a hot meal.<br />

“We look forward to working with<br />

the government to ensure this scheme<br />

continues as the winter progresses. But<br />

this crisis reaches far beyond energy bills<br />

– we need to see targeted grant support<br />

if community organisations are going to<br />

keep playing their essential role on the<br />

front line of this crisis.”<br />

Call for new economy<br />

The Co-op Party has been calling for<br />

government action – and measures that<br />

go beyond financial support to a more<br />

fundamental economic reform.<br />

General secretary Joe Fortune said: “We<br />

are clear about the changes Liz Truss must<br />

make in both the short and long term.<br />

“Our movement and Party are alive<br />

with ideas which will give our country a<br />

better future. Over the coming months and<br />

years, we must campaign for those ideas<br />

and the movement we represent with even<br />

more zeal and energy.”<br />

8 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

He called on the government to tackle<br />

the energy crisis, with “urgent action to<br />

prevent households and businesses facing<br />

unpayable bills come <strong>October</strong>”.<br />

In the longer term, “actions must include<br />

reforming the ownership of our energy<br />

system at every level, supercharging<br />

retrofitting to make our homes and<br />

businesses more energy efficient, and<br />

creating hundreds of thousands of new<br />

owners of community energy generation<br />

schemes so that our country benefits from<br />

fair and clean energy production.”<br />

Fortune also urged action on the<br />

wider cost of living crisis, with “more<br />

support for co-operative and communitybased<br />

measures to deliver food justice,<br />

increasing emergency support such as the<br />

Household Support Fund”.<br />

He wants the government to “unleash<br />

the co-operative economy”, offering “a<br />

fairer, more resilient way of doing business<br />

– especially in turbulent economic times”.<br />

Reiterating the Party’s goal of doubling<br />

the size of the co-operative economy,<br />

Fortune suggested measures such as<br />

“increasing co-operative development<br />

capacity, reforming legislation holding cooperatives<br />

back, and creating new capital<br />

raising instruments for co-operatives<br />

and new mutual guarantee societies to<br />

support SME lending”.<br />

He also urged the government to<br />

support community ownership as a<br />

means of “tackling inequality, generating<br />

and keeping wealth locally, and taking<br />

ownership of the places, spaces and<br />

decisions that matter to them” through<br />

measures such as a local buy-out fund<br />

and the devolution of levelling up funds<br />

“so that communities don’t need to go cap<br />

in hand to Westminster”.<br />

The Party also made a call for a fairer<br />

financial system. “This must involve steps<br />

to protect vulnerable consumers such as<br />

tackling exploitative ‘buy now, pay later’<br />

providers by facilitating the growth of<br />

not-for-profit micro-loan providers and<br />

facilitating the growth of credit unions.<br />

“We must ensure the wider financial<br />

system reflects our values too, from<br />

supporting the development of regional<br />

banks to ensuring huge multinational<br />

businesses pay their fair share of tax.”<br />

Action in Scotland<br />

The broader crisis facing co-ops and other<br />

businesses has also drawn responses from<br />

the Scottish government.<br />

Agri co-op apex the Scottish Agricultural<br />

Organisation Society (SAOS) warns these<br />

issues are of particular concern to the<br />

farming sector. In its autumn bulletin<br />

for members it said energy costs are just<br />

one of a number of serious problems<br />

threatening food production.<br />

It said the Ukraine crisis has brought<br />

“rising energy prices, acute labour<br />

shortages, challenges to logistics and<br />

transportation, and significant increases<br />

in the cost of raw materials” and follows<br />

hard on the heels of shocks to the supply<br />

chain and barriers to trade from Covid-19<br />

and Brexit. But it said immediate food<br />

resources are secure, noting the Short-life<br />

Food Security and Supply Taskforce set<br />

up by the Scottish government in March<br />

to: “monitor, identify and respond to any<br />

potential disruption to food security and<br />

supply resulting from the impact of the<br />

ongoing conflict in Ukraine”. It produced<br />

a set of short, medium and longer-term<br />

recommendations including the creation<br />

of a Food Security Unit to: “monitor risks,<br />

increase resilience in food production and<br />

respond rapidly to emerging issues”.<br />

SAOS added that co-operation is a vital<br />

tool in building resilience against crisis –<br />

which means that co-ops themselves must<br />

take effective action as well as drawing on<br />

help from government.<br />

“Co-ops and their farmer members are<br />

not immune to supply chain shocks and<br />

will continue to face challenges in the<br />

weeks and months ahead,” it said. “Being<br />

part of a co-op can be of great advantage<br />

in times of crisis however.<br />

“Ensuring the lines of communication<br />

are working effectively within the coop<br />

allows members to feel less isolated<br />

in challenging times. Encouraging<br />

and sharing best practice, such as by<br />

highlighting cost saving measures or<br />

harnessing more innovative practices,<br />

are other ways in which co-ops can bring<br />

additional value to their farmer members<br />

during challenging times.<br />

“Co-ops must ensure they have strong,<br />

two-way communication channels with<br />

their members, and their members must<br />

be receptive to the idea of change.”<br />

Energy bills crisis: 30-43<br />

APPEAL<br />

Co-ops UK urges members to support Pakistan flood appeal<br />

Co-operatives UK is urging its members<br />

to support the Pakistan Floods Appeal,<br />

launched by the Disasters Emergency<br />

Committee (DEC) last month.<br />

The catastrophic floods are thought<br />

to have left a third of the country under<br />

water, killing more than 1,500 people.<br />

More than 33 million people have been<br />

affected by the disaster, which has cost the<br />

country an estimated US$40bn (£35.5bn)<br />

and brought outbreaks of cholera and<br />

other waterborne diseases.<br />

UK co-op retailers, including the Co-op<br />

Group, Midcounties and Central England,<br />

have launched awareness campaigns.<br />

Now Co-operatives UK is encouraging the<br />

wider movement to offer its support. CEO<br />

Rose Marley said: “Despite an incredible<br />

response from the UK public, the flooding<br />

and risk of disease is hugely concerning.<br />

We need to ensure that agencies working<br />

on the ground have all the support they<br />

need to reach those most in need.<br />

“We are also reaching out to co-op<br />

organisations in Pakistan to understand<br />

other ways the UK movement can support<br />

the recovery and rebuild.”<br />

This call out has been coordinated via<br />

the International Co-operative Working<br />

Group (ICWG), made up of representatives<br />

from Co-op Group, Midcounties, Central<br />

England, the Worker Co-op Council, Co-op<br />

News and the Co-op College.<br />

In recent years the UK co-op sector has<br />

raised more than £1m for the Ukraine DEC<br />

Appeal, £100,000 to provide emergency<br />

Covid support to co-ops in India and<br />

nearly AU$100,000 to help co-ops rebuild<br />

after the 2020 Australian wildfires.<br />

You can donate via coop.uk/3TCw39i<br />

Donate by text: Text COOP to 70000 to<br />

donate £10. Texts cost £10 plus standard<br />

network rate. Disasters Emergency<br />

Committee is a registered charity,<br />

no. 1062638. Full T&Cs on text at<br />

dec.org.uk<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 9


Co-op movement urged<br />

to back co-ops and<br />

mutuals bill ahead of<br />

second reading<br />

Co-operators are being urged to voice their<br />

support for the Co-operatives, Mutuals<br />

and Friendly Societies Bill, which is due<br />

for its second reading in the House of<br />

Commons on 28 <strong>October</strong>.<br />

The private members’ bill, which passed<br />

its first reading on 15 June, was developed<br />

by advocacy organisation Mutuo and<br />

Preston’s Labour and Co-operative MP,<br />

Mark Hendrick, and covers four key<br />

areas of reform long sought by the co-op<br />

movement.<br />

Firstly, it would make changes to share<br />

capital arrangements for co-ops, enabling<br />

p Mark Hendrick<br />

them to raise more money through<br />

perpetual, non withdrawable shares.<br />

The bill’s campaign website states that<br />

“co-operatives are at a disadvantage to<br />

their shareholder-owned competitors<br />

in relation to how they raise and retain<br />

capital”, and that “further legislative<br />

reform is now needed in the UK, so cooperatives<br />

have new options to access the<br />

finance capital that they need for growth.”<br />

The bill would also confirm that mutual<br />

insurers and friendly societies that issue<br />

mutuals deferred shares would not be<br />

disproportionately impacted when paying<br />

corporation tax. The Mutuals’ Deferred<br />

Shares Act was passed in 2015, allowing<br />

mutual insurers and friendly societies to<br />

issue share capital for the first time.<br />

An option for legacy reserves to be made<br />

indivisible for co-ops, mutual insurers<br />

and friendly societies is also proposed as<br />

a disincentive to demutualisers. The bill’s<br />

website references the recent attempt<br />

Image:iStock<br />

to demutualise LV= in its argument for<br />

the provision: “As witnessed with LV= in<br />

2021, mutuals remain a target for assetstripping<br />

demutualisers, attracted by the<br />

legacy assets built up over generations,”<br />

adding that legislative safeguards such<br />

as this would “disincentivise asset raids,<br />

and help to preserve mutual ownership<br />

and corporate diversity”. Most co-ops<br />

currently include non-distributable<br />

capital surplus provisions in their rules,<br />

but according to a statement made by<br />

Co-operatives UK, this often falls short of<br />

the permanent legal guarantee sought by<br />

co-op investors.<br />

Also included in the bill are changes<br />

to the Friendly Societies Act 1992, which<br />

the campaign says is “desperately out<br />

of date in a number of areas”, imposing<br />

“unnecessary restrictions on ambitious<br />

friendly societies and … problems that<br />

the Companies Act has overcome in the<br />

intervening period”.<br />

SAOS calls on Scottish government to include co-ops in farming reform<br />

In its autumn update to members, the<br />

Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society<br />

(SAOS) has given a mixed response to<br />

progress on the Scottish government’s<br />

agriculture bill.<br />

The bill is looking to create a post-Brexit<br />

framework for the agri sector, with farmers<br />

taken out of the Common Agricultural<br />

Policy (CAP) and its system of subsidies.<br />

The plan is to introduce payments and<br />

schemes that are developed in Scotland<br />

for Scottish farming, rather than being<br />

rooted in CAP legacy policies.<br />

SAOS, the umbrella organisation<br />

for Scotland’s agri co-op sector, sits<br />

on Scotland’s Agricultural Reform<br />

Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB)<br />

and says it is pushing for “quicker, bolder<br />

reforms that will encourage more cooperation<br />

and support co-op business<br />

operations”, adding: “We are gaining<br />

traction but progress is slow.”<br />

It says that thanks to its input there are<br />

positive signs, with co-ops “specifically<br />

referenced as entities that could be<br />

eligible recipients of support”.<br />

The consultation also acknowledges<br />

that new specific funding mechanisms<br />

for the agri-food sector will be necessary<br />

including financial support for “Agri-food<br />

co-operation”.<br />

SAOS adds that the consultation refers<br />

to co-op working in terms of optimising<br />

collaboration and knowledge exchange,<br />

and there is also mention of collaboration<br />

within wider rural development.<br />

“These may appear only to be small<br />

wins,” it says, “but if these elements are<br />

enshrined in the enabling legislation then<br />

this becomes the skeleton upon which<br />

co-operation supportive schemes and<br />

funding can follow.<br />

“We urge all our members and<br />

stakeholders to participate in this<br />

consultation and provide proactive<br />

feedback on these and other areas that<br />

underpin a new, positive future for<br />

co-operation and co-op businesses.”<br />

10 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>


Residents add a church and WMC to the community ownership<br />

Locals in Harrogate and Kingsley Holt,<br />

Staffs., have added to the UK’s family<br />

of community businesses by banding<br />

together to buy treasured social hubs –<br />

both using loan support from Co-operative<br />

& Community Finance (CCF).<br />

One of the sites is High Harrogate<br />

Working Men’s Club, in North Yorks.,<br />

which will be fully restored and renovated<br />

on the ground floor and exterior, with the<br />

first and second floors redeveloped to<br />

create six residential apartments.<br />

Established in 1889, the club was<br />

registered as a co-op in 2019 and is now<br />

converting to a community benefit society<br />

to reflect the breadth of its services.<br />

Renamed High Harrogate Bar and Lounge,<br />

it is planning to rejuvenate facilities<br />

for local clubs such as judo, Pilates,<br />

meditation and indoor sports, and offer<br />

a modernised function room for events,<br />

parties and live music.<br />

Kevin Lloyd-Evans, lending and<br />

relationship manager at CCF, said: “Being<br />

able to respond to access to finance<br />

challenges is paramount to our work.<br />

We support membership organisations<br />

which are democratically controlled<br />

and collectively owned. This is a brilliant<br />

start as we now look to support other<br />

p High Harrogate Bar and Lounge and (below) members of Kingsley Holt Centre<br />

working men’s clubs across the country.”<br />

Meanwhile, residents of Kingsley Holt,<br />

a village near Cheadle, Staffs., have come<br />

together to save and repurpose their local<br />

Methodist chapel as a community centre<br />

with a meeting space, shop and café.<br />

The church closed for regular worship<br />

in 2019 due to a dwindling congregation.<br />

Opened in 1937, it was an important focal<br />

point for the community and its trustees<br />

asked residents to find alternative uses<br />

for it. Locals responded by managing<br />

activities and hiring the building out<br />

for events but in May 2021 the trustees<br />

announced it was to be sold. Locals<br />

– who had already lost the village’s<br />

last remaining shop – responded by<br />

registering it with the local council as an<br />

Asset of Community Value. Soon after,<br />

Kingsley Holt Centre was registered as a<br />

community benefit society.<br />

With its CCF loan topping up investment<br />

from more than 120 members through<br />

a community share offer, the society<br />

completed the purchase on 5 September<br />

and is drawing up plans to change the<br />

internal layout, with a meeting space,<br />

shop and café.<br />

Martin Wheeler, chair of Kingsley Holt<br />

Centre, said: “We had to do an amazing<br />

amount of research. We visited other<br />

groups for advice and on one of these<br />

visits CCF was recommended to us. From<br />

the very first contact it was evident that<br />

this was an invaluable recommendation.<br />

Kevin worked very closely with us on this<br />

project, providing advice, information<br />

access to funding in addition to loans.”<br />

Power to Change helps community land trust develop new housing<br />

A community land trust in Hastings, east<br />

Sussex, is turning derelict buildings into<br />

rent-capped homes and workspaces.<br />

White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures<br />

(WRNV) says its goal is to create affordable<br />

spaces for living, working and community<br />

activity. It is a partnership between Jericho<br />

Road Solutions, Meanwhile Space and the<br />

Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust.<br />

“Our capped rents are really important<br />

to us,” says James Leathers of the Heart<br />

of Hastings Community Land Trust.<br />

“They will mean that a broad diversity of<br />

people will still be able to live and work<br />

in the centre of Hastings as the area starts<br />

to gentrify.”<br />

Awarded £75,000 from community<br />

business charity Power to Change, the<br />

project is centred on two large buildings:<br />

Rock House – a nine-floor mixed-use<br />

community hub that is already thriving –<br />

and the Observer Building, which is a<br />

work in progress. These buildings fall<br />

under a wider project known as the<br />

Hastings Commons.<br />

“Hastings Commons is an ecosystem of<br />

connected organisations that approach<br />

local regeneration differently,” says<br />

Caoimhe O’Gorman, the engagement<br />

manager for Heart of Hastings CLT. “Our<br />

mission is to bring property into long-term<br />

community ownership with affordable<br />

rents in the control of residents.”<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 11


UK’s first virtually plastic-free homes to be run by housing co-op<br />

A co-op housing development has been<br />

completed in Redditch, Worcs., using lowcarbon<br />

and minimal plastic materials.<br />

Developer GreenSquareAccord says it is<br />

the first of its kind in Europe when it comes<br />

to building with plastic alternatives.<br />

The Pioneer Housing Co-operative<br />

development, on the site of a former<br />

factory car park in the town centre, is<br />

offering 12 one-bed apartments to be<br />

managed by Redditch Cooperative Homes.<br />

Residents were recruited early in the<br />

process and have had the chance to<br />

personalise their homes, which have<br />

been built using GreenSquareAccord’s<br />

low-carbon manufacturing facility, LoCaL<br />

Homes. The apartments feature plasticfree<br />

finishes such as mineral-based wire<br />

insulation, wooden kitchen units and<br />

aluminium window frames.<br />

There are some elements of construction<br />

that could not be sourced without plastic.<br />

For safety reasons, the outside cladding is<br />

made of a cement mixture which includes<br />

plastic as a binding agent, and some<br />

fixtures such as the electricity meters<br />

could not be made plastic-free.<br />

The developer‘s assistant director of<br />

new business, Carl Taylor, said: “Although<br />

challenging, this project demonstrates<br />

what is possible and sets a new threshold<br />

in the sector for sustainable building. Our<br />

aim is to influence others to embrace our<br />

approach and remove the plastic elements<br />

from their builds, helping to create a more<br />

sustainable building sector.”<br />

Tenant David Trevitt said: “I can’t wait<br />

to move in – the peace and independence<br />

this will bring will make a massive<br />

difference to my life. As I have disabilities,<br />

this place is perfectly suited to me as it<br />

is on the ground floor and close to town<br />

and the shops. I can appreciate that the<br />

apartment is plastic-free and I’m looking<br />

forward to the benefits of lower fuel bills.”<br />

Image: GreenSquareAccord<br />

The £1.37m project received £830,631<br />

from the Interreg North West Europe<br />

funding partnership to allow the plastic<br />

reduction efforts to be researched during<br />

construction.<br />

It is also part of the Circular Housing<br />

Asset Renovation and Management<br />

(CHARM) partnership, involving<br />

representatives from France, Belgium and<br />

the Netherlands and the UK, including<br />

Redditch Borough Council.<br />

The £35m regeneration of Redditch<br />

town centre will see the co-op double in<br />

size, providing over 200 homes for new<br />

members over the next 18 months.<br />

RETAIL<br />

Unicorn refines its recipe for a worker-owned grocery<br />

Manchester co-op grocery Unicorn has<br />

launched an updated version of its guide<br />

to setting up a co-operative food store.<br />

The Grow a Grocery guide – released<br />

in 2010 to help those starting a new shop<br />

or developing an existing one – is being<br />

updated to include new resources and a<br />

fresh design.<br />

Unicorn, established in 1996, has no<br />

plans to expand beyond its existing<br />

shop, focusing instead on enabling the<br />

development of more worker-owned food<br />

co-ops around the world.<br />

“We’ve always had a mission to create<br />

social and environmental change,” says<br />

Unicorn’s Debbie Clarke, “and part of that<br />

is sharing what we know.”<br />

Unicorn’s guide includes a run-through<br />

of the 10 key areas of its business,<br />

including people, planning, produce,<br />

premises, practical resources, procedures<br />

and pricing, promotion and policies,<br />

and principles. An accompanying set<br />

of resources includes sample policies,<br />

supplier lists and rotas.<br />

Updates include new tools and systems<br />

from the sociocratic governance model, as<br />

well as learnings from the Barefoot course<br />

for Co-op Developers.<br />

“We know the guide in its original form<br />

has been useful to hundreds of enterprises<br />

all over the world,” said Debbie, “but<br />

things change over time and we wanted<br />

to keep it relevant and a living resource.<br />

We’re learning constantly, so although<br />

the core model remains the same, we’ve<br />

developed and grown a lot in the years<br />

since we wrote it.<br />

“Of course, the food retail landscape<br />

has changed too, so we hope that’s been<br />

reflected.”<br />

The guide has been used by a range of<br />

different businesses since it was originally<br />

developed with the support of Sustain and<br />

its Big Lottery-funded Food Co-ops and<br />

Buying Groups project.<br />

Download the guide at bit.ly/3R4wtTt<br />

12 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>


Conference to look<br />

at community wealth<br />

building in lean times<br />

The Centre for Local Economic Strategies<br />

(CLES) says its annual conference will<br />

challenge local government leaders to<br />

learn from the cost of living crisis and put<br />

community wealth building into practice.<br />

The Community Wealth Building<br />

Summit will gather delegates from<br />

the public, private and community<br />

and voluntary sectors at the Library of<br />

Birmingham on Friday 18 November, from<br />

9.30am – 4pm.<br />

It says the summit, which will be<br />

preceded by a series of optional webinars<br />

to introduce the key concepts of the model,<br />

is “the flagship event for progressive local<br />

economic approaches in the UK and the<br />

only conference dedicated to uniting,<br />

informing and inspiring the community<br />

wealth building movement”.<br />

This year it will “examine how<br />

community wealth building can be used<br />

to diagnose the disfunctions that long<br />

predate this summer’s lack of leadership<br />

on the cost of living crisis and redesign<br />

our local economies accordingly”.<br />

CEO Sarah Longlands (pictured) said:<br />

“The cost of living scandal is savagely<br />

highlighting where local economies are<br />

failing local people. We can no longer afford<br />

to repeat the mistakes of the past. Now is<br />

the time to be brave. In recent years we’ve<br />

seen economic development practice start<br />

to make the right noises about building<br />

more inclusive local economies.<br />

“The scale and the urgency of the<br />

challenges we now face mean we need<br />

to ask hard questions about whether this<br />

shift will be sufficient. The summit will<br />

provide the inspirations and tools to not<br />

only survive the coming storm, but to<br />

think differently and put this new thinking<br />

into action.”<br />

Scotmid competition on the hunt for local produce<br />

Scotmid Co-op has teamed up with<br />

industry body Scotland Food & Drink for<br />

a second year to give local producers the<br />

chance to win one of five promotional<br />

listings across its stores.<br />

The competition is open to all Scottish<br />

food and drink suppliers across different<br />

product categories.<br />

Worker co-op federation to rally support with webinars<br />

Workers.coop, the new federation for<br />

worker co-ops in the UK, has begun<br />

its mobilising phase, and is running<br />

fortnightly webinars for people to “hear<br />

updates, feed in and join in”. The next are<br />

on 7 <strong>October</strong> and 21 <strong>October</strong> (1-2pm), with<br />

an in-person meeting also planned for the<br />

21st. For more information and links, visit<br />

workers.coop/events<br />

Samaritans ‘stunned’ by donation from Tamworth Co-op<br />

The director of Tamworth Samaritans says<br />

she is overwhelmed by a £5,000 donation<br />

to her branch from Tamworth Co-op’s<br />

Community Dividend Fund.<br />

The grant is the largest ever handed<br />

out from the co-op’s community support<br />

scheme, which distributes a five-figure<br />

sum to local causes each year.<br />

Southern Co-op joins Somerset Wildlife Trust<br />

Southern Co-op has joined Somerset<br />

Wildlife Trust as a corporate member, as it<br />

continues its environmental sustainability<br />

strategy. Its support will help the Trust<br />

to build a Nature Recovery Network<br />

across Somerset and engage with local<br />

communities, helping them to develop<br />

the skills and expertise needed to take the<br />

lead in caring for their local environment.<br />

East of England hands out £10k to community causes<br />

East of England Co-op has paid out more<br />

than £100,000 via its Community Cares<br />

Fund to 26 organisations across Norfolk,<br />

Suffolk and Essex. Grants between £1,000<br />

and £5,000 and are expected to benefit<br />

4,757 local people. Recipients include<br />

Disability Advice North East Suffolk, a<br />

support charity run by disabled people,<br />

for disabled people and their carers.<br />

SEPTEMBER <strong>2022</strong> | 13


EUROPE<br />

Co-ops respond<br />

to Ursula von der<br />

Leyen’s State of the<br />

Union Speech<br />

European Commission president Ursula<br />

von der Leyen delivered her State of the<br />

Union Speech to the European Parliament<br />

on 14 September in the presence of<br />

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska.<br />

Von der Leyen highlighted the key<br />

challenges and priorities for the EU,<br />

particularly around the energy crisis,<br />

suggesting measures such as a cap on<br />

the revenues of companies that produce<br />

electricity at a low cost, establishing<br />

a new benchmark for the gas market,<br />

reforming the electricity market, investing<br />

in renewable energy and creating a<br />

European Bank for hydrogen.<br />

She also mentioned how workers at<br />

Italian co-op Ceramiche are saving energy<br />

by starting work at six in the morning to<br />

use sunlight and to avoid turning on fans.<br />

And she announced the launch of an<br />

SME Relief Package, a measure welcomed<br />

by sector apex Cooperatives Europe.<br />

“This year, we will be expecting an<br />

SME relief package with a proposal for<br />

a single set of tax rules called BEFIT,”<br />

said a Cooperatives Europe statement.<br />

“While promoting an enabling business<br />

environment is strongly encouraged,<br />

we remain more cautious on the fiscal<br />

aspect. Co-operatives’ fiscal treatment<br />

varies between member states and reflects<br />

co-operatives’ specific principles and<br />

differences in management logic. Work<br />

on that topic will require a thorough<br />

stakeholders’ consultation, of which we<br />

stand ready to be part.”<br />

Cooperatives Europe also approves of the<br />

Commission’s initiatives around skilling<br />

and re-skilling the workforce. “As the<br />

Commission announced 2023 to become<br />

the European Year of Skills, we hope to see<br />

this momentum used to better promote<br />

co-operative entrepreneurship in higher<br />

education and management training,”<br />

it said.<br />

The apex added it will continue to<br />

engage with the EU institutions. Upcoming<br />

European initiatives include the council<br />

recommendation establishing framework<br />

p Ursula von der Leyen delivered her State of the Union Speech in the European Parliament on<br />

14 September (Image: EU)<br />

conditions for the social economy, the<br />

transition pathways and the work on<br />

sustainable corporate governance, all of<br />

which could impact co-ops.<br />

The European Confederation of<br />

Industrial and Service Cooperatives (Cecop)<br />

also welcomed some of von der Leyen’s<br />

announcements but said it regretted the<br />

omission of the social dimension.<br />

“In the <strong>2022</strong> State of the Union<br />

address, the Commission president<br />

has made important commitments to<br />

relieve economic pressure on European<br />

businesses and citizens, which Cecop<br />

welcomes,” said the organisation’s<br />

president, Giuseppe Guerini.<br />

“Unfortunately, little has been said on<br />

the social dimension of the EU. Support<br />

for social cohesion is essential to building<br />

the EU’s resilience and social economy<br />

actors, including co-operatives, are key<br />

stakeholders in this.”<br />

A statement from Cecop added: “The<br />

crises currently facing the EU require it to<br />

step up and deliver direct, immediate and<br />

broad actions to promote social cohesion.<br />

Social justice and social peace will be<br />

key to the upcoming European elections.<br />

Quality working conditions will be key to<br />

tackle staff shortages, and to contribute to<br />

resilient and sustainable development of<br />

the European economy.<br />

“Cecop hopes to see social policies, the<br />

European Pillar of Social Rights and the<br />

implementation of the Social Economy<br />

Action Plan high on the working agenda<br />

of the Commission for 2023.”<br />

The organisation welcomed the promise<br />

of support for companies and citizens<br />

who are struggling with the increased<br />

energy prices, and the EU’s commitment<br />

to ensure accessibility of critical raw<br />

materials, but added that the announced<br />

SME relief package must be fully available<br />

to co-operatives across the EU.<br />

“Our industry co-operatives, in<br />

particular, are key partners for the EU<br />

on its way to develop a more sovereign<br />

economy and to advance with the just<br />

<strong>digital</strong> and green transition mentioned<br />

by the Commission president. But they<br />

face a number of challenges that must be<br />

tackled urgently,” it said.<br />

Cecop also welcomed the Commission’s<br />

commitment to come forward with new<br />

ideas for the EU’s economic governance<br />

in <strong>October</strong>: “We expect these new rules<br />

to move away from the focus on austerity<br />

and to facilitate strategic investment by<br />

the member states in order to address<br />

outstanding social and economic<br />

challenges and to promote a fair <strong>digital</strong><br />

and green transition.”<br />

With the Year 2023 being declared the<br />

European Year of Education and Training,<br />

Cecop pointed out that skills development<br />

is essential for the future of European<br />

workers and businesses, in particular<br />

SMEs.<br />

“Co-operatives both invest in their<br />

employees’ reskilling and upskilling, and<br />

benefit from broader skill development<br />

measures. This is why Cecop has<br />

already joined the Skills Partnership<br />

for the Proximity and Social Economy<br />

ecosystem,” it said.<br />

14 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

EUROPE<br />

EU Care Strategy package recognises co-operatives<br />

The European Commission presented a<br />

European Care Strategy which suggests<br />

concrete actions for member states to<br />

increase access to high-quality and<br />

affordable care services, while improving<br />

working conditions and work-life balance<br />

for carers.<br />

Published on 7 September, the strategy<br />

is accompanied by two proposals for<br />

Council recommendations on long-term<br />

care and early childhood education and<br />

care; and recognises co-operatives as<br />

major partners for public authorities in<br />

the provision of long-term care.<br />

The Commission points out that 90%<br />

of the formal care workforce is made<br />

up of women, and 7.7 million women<br />

are out of employment because of care<br />

responsibilities. To address this, it<br />

suggests a number of actions, including<br />

revising the targets on early childhood<br />

education and care to enhance women’s<br />

labour market participation, also called<br />

‘the Barcelona Targets’, set in 2002.<br />

Commissioner for Jobs and Social<br />

Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said: “The<br />

European Care Strategy is about putting<br />

people first. The EU recognises the value<br />

of care work, which must be reflected<br />

in better working conditions and pay.<br />

People in need of long-term care must be<br />

guaranteed access to affordable services<br />

of good quality so they can live a dignified<br />

life. I hope that this strategy will result in<br />

care – both professional and informal –<br />

being given the respect and investment it<br />

deserves.”<br />

The European confederation of<br />

industrial and service cooperatives<br />

(Cecop) welcomed the adoption of the<br />

strategy and the related policy initiatives.<br />

Cecop notes that the strategy<br />

acknowledges the contribution of cooperatives<br />

as “important partners for<br />

public authorities in the provision of<br />

long-term care” and the fact that “social<br />

economy actors bring an added-value to<br />

the provision of high-quality care services<br />

due to their person-centred approach<br />

and the reinvestment of profits into their<br />

mission and local communities”.<br />

Another provision welcomed by Cecop<br />

is the acknowledgment that policy and<br />

legal frameworks should create the right<br />

environment for the social economy to<br />

optimise its contribution to care services.<br />

The apex also views favourably the<br />

recommendation that member states<br />

include quality criteria in public<br />

procurement. “The systematic use of<br />

socially responsible public procurement<br />

could boost the potential of social<br />

economy to contribute to high-quality<br />

standards in care and to provide fair<br />

working conditions”, reads the strategy.<br />

Cecop argues this provision will help cooperatives,<br />

as organisations that prioritise<br />

quality over profit in employment<br />

conditions and care provision.<br />

In recognising the importance<br />

of accessible <strong>digital</strong> transition and<br />

technological innovation, the strategy<br />

mentions CGM, the main Italian<br />

consortium of social co-operatives, as<br />

a best practice in increasing access to<br />

long-term care via <strong>digital</strong>isation. The<br />

consortium provides care services via<br />

<strong>digital</strong> platforms.<br />

Giuseppe Guerini, the president of<br />

Cecop, said: “In many cases, co-operatives<br />

have created services where there<br />

were none, and made investments and<br />

promoted social solidarity at a time when<br />

no one was talking about social impact<br />

investments. They have created a new<br />

model of enterprises (social co-operatives)<br />

and hundreds of thousands of jobs. This<br />

is why we believe it is important that in<br />

the implementation of the European Care<br />

Strategy the key role of social economy<br />

organisations – and first of all social and<br />

health co-operatives – are recognised.”<br />

To achieve further progress, Cecop<br />

Image: GettyImages/MarcBruxelle<br />

recommends the Commission and EU<br />

member states consider:<br />

• prioritising long-term investment and<br />

sustainable funding for care providers<br />

that respects the co-operative model<br />

and ensuring that co-operatives are<br />

eligible for all relevant EU and national<br />

funding<br />

• more favourable state aid rules and a<br />

higher de minimis threshold for the care<br />

sector<br />

• an effective shift towards a more<br />

integrated public-private partnership<br />

model, based on a joint analysis of<br />

community needs and long-term<br />

planning of services by care providers,<br />

authorities and other stakeholders<br />

• EU financial instruments for <strong>digital</strong>,<br />

technological and social innovation<br />

in the care sector are essential but<br />

policy attention to that field should be<br />

increased, in particular on the side of<br />

the member states.<br />

• stepping up investments in care<br />

infrastructure<br />

• promoting and supporting communitybased<br />

care model among the member<br />

states.<br />

Cecop says it expects to “engage in<br />

further dialogue with the Commission<br />

and our members in the member states<br />

on implementation of the care strategy<br />

package” and is “committed to sharing<br />

expertise from our network”.<br />

The Commission’s proposals for Council<br />

Recommendations will be discussed by<br />

member states with a view to adoption by<br />

the [European] Council.<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 15


Tech co-op given state funds for digitisation project<br />

The Finnish government has awarded a<br />

€3m (£2.6m) grant to Findynet Cooperative<br />

for a pilot project aiming to build a selfsovereign<br />

identity network.<br />

The initiative seeks to further encourage<br />

Finland’s digitisation while supporting<br />

the emergence of investments in new<br />

<strong>digital</strong> services. The co-op will use the<br />

money to develop a common and secure<br />

network of verified data to stimulate<br />

electronic transactions.<br />

Such a network would allow individuals<br />

and organisations to share information<br />

such as certificates, electronic receipts,<br />

credit information and proof of<br />

professional qualifications in a way that<br />

protects their privacy while boosting<br />

trust in transactions. Furthermore, <strong>digital</strong><br />

wallets developed by different service<br />

providers would be interoperable and<br />

work seamlessly for both organisations<br />

NORWAY<br />

Coop Norway<br />

reduces food waste<br />

through partnership<br />

with Too Good to Go<br />

Retailer Coop Norway says it has<br />

distributed 550,000 bags of surplus food<br />

using the mobile app Too Good to Go.<br />

The co-op began rollout of the initiative<br />

in autumn 2021, enabling customers<br />

to buy food items cheaply that would<br />

otherwise be thrown away. It is part of the<br />

retailer’s plans to reduce food waste by<br />

30% by 2025.<br />

“It has quickly become a very popular<br />

offer among our customers, and it feels<br />

good to know that the goods are being<br />

sold and eaten,” said Håvard Jensen,<br />

director of Chains at Coop Norge.<br />

“Our customers, who are also our coowners,<br />

are concerned with sustainability<br />

and are becoming increasingly aware of<br />

throwing away less food.”<br />

Jensen described how the collaboration<br />

with Too Good To Go is expected to<br />

reduce the co-operative’s food waste by<br />

approximately 6% in <strong>2022</strong>. “This is just<br />

one of several important steps on the<br />

way to our vision for zero food waste,”<br />

he added.<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

and individuals. Users would also be able<br />

to manage their own data and decide what<br />

information they share about themselves<br />

with different parties.<br />

“We are very happy to have received<br />

this government grant, which allows us to<br />

Near the shop’s closing time the leftover<br />

food is packaged by Coop Norway<br />

staff in surprise bags and made available<br />

in the Too Good To Go app. Customers can<br />

then buy the bags for around one third of<br />

the full price.<br />

“The customers appreciate that they<br />

can get a full range of groceries. A bag can<br />

contain baked goods, fruit and vegetables,<br />

fish and meat, dry goods, cold cuts and<br />

dairy products that we are not allowed to<br />

sell at full price due to shelf life, cosmetic<br />

defects or the like,” said store manager<br />

Joakim Nilsen for Extra Iseveien in<br />

Sarpsborg, the Coop Norway grocery store<br />

to have sold the most bags through Too<br />

Good To Go.<br />

All 804 Coop Norway stores have a<br />

profile on the Too Good To Go app.<br />

A social enterprise, Too Good to Go<br />

was founded in Denmark at the end of<br />

2015 by a group of friends seeking to<br />

reduce food waste. Since then a number<br />

of co-operative retailers have joined the<br />

initiative, including the Southern Cooperative,<br />

the Midcounties Co-operative,<br />

the Central England Co-operative and the<br />

Heart of England Co-operative in the UK,<br />

Coop Netherlands, the Dill Pickle Food<br />

Co-op in Chicago and Coop Denmark.<br />

“Together with our app users, the Coop<br />

[Norway] stores make a big effort to ensure<br />

continue our long-term work with public<br />

and private sector actors and build a trust<br />

network covering all of society,” said<br />

Markus Hautala, chair of Findynet and<br />

head of <strong>digital</strong> identity at Tietoevry.<br />

Findynet is a co-operative of nine<br />

public and private sector organisations:<br />

Kela, Posti, Tietoevry, OP group, Nixu,<br />

Nordea, Vastuu Group, Finanssiala<br />

and Technology Industry. Its customers<br />

are public and private sector service<br />

providers that utilise the network and<br />

provide <strong>digital</strong> wallet services to end<br />

customers.<br />

The self-governing identity network<br />

would also be compatible with the EU’s<br />

eIDAS Regulation (EU) No. 910/2014,<br />

which regulates cross-border electronic<br />

identification and electronic trust<br />

services. eIDAS is being amended to<br />

regulate European wallet applications.<br />

p Customers can buy the bags for around one<br />

third of the full price (Image: Coop Norway)<br />

that the food they have left at the end of<br />

the day is eaten and does not end up as<br />

waste”, said Johan Ingemarsson, general<br />

manager of Too Good To Go.<br />

“The environmental benefit of the<br />

550,000 bags of surplus food saved so<br />

far corresponds to 1,375 tonnes of CO2<br />

equivalents. With this, we have saved the<br />

world from emissions equivalent to flying<br />

271 times around the world.<br />

16 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

USA<br />

Co-op leaders given new places on two federal committees<br />

Co-op leaders have been given places on<br />

two federal committees, set up by the<br />

Department of Agriculture (USDA) and<br />

Department of Energy.<br />

In August, USDA announced a new<br />

Equity Commission Subcommittee on<br />

Rural Community Economic Development,<br />

which includes representatives of<br />

community-based organisations, lending<br />

institutions, small businesses, tribal<br />

entities and the Equity Commission.<br />

Among the 12 are Doug O’Brien,<br />

president and CEO of national co-op apex<br />

NCBA CLUSA; and Curtis Wynn, CEO of<br />

SECO Energy, an electric co-op serving<br />

more than 200,000 member-owners in<br />

Central Florida.<br />

“USDA is committed to ensuring<br />

that the underserved communities<br />

and populations that have been<br />

disproportionately impacted by the<br />

effects of economic and environmental<br />

shocks are prioritised,” said agriculture<br />

secretary Tom Vilsack. “The diverse<br />

perspectives and expertise of the new<br />

subcommittee members will be critical to<br />

ensuring the Commission’s discussions<br />

p Curtis Wynn, Doug O’Brien will work with the USDA and Louis Finkel with the Energy Department<br />

and recommendations are balanced,<br />

insightful, and project the desired equity<br />

outcomes for everyone.”<br />

“It is an honour to serve with such an<br />

excellent group of rural leaders,” said<br />

O’Brien. “The work of the commission<br />

ensuring greater equity in USDA<br />

programmes is crucial for all people in<br />

rural communities.”<br />

Meanwhile, Louis Finkel, senior vice<br />

president of the National Rural Electric<br />

Cooperative Association (NRECA) has<br />

been appointed to serve a two-year term<br />

on the Energy Department’s Electricity<br />

Advisory Committee (EAC).<br />

The EAC’s role is to help department<br />

define a strategy to modernise the<br />

country’s electricity infrastructure.<br />

Finkel, who will give input on issues<br />

such as smart grid technologies, energy<br />

storage, renewable energy resource<br />

system integration, and new transmission<br />

infrastructure, said: “I’m honoured to<br />

be able to serve as a voice for America’s<br />

electric co-ops as the nation works toward<br />

a future that depends more on electricity<br />

to power the American economy.”<br />

Also serving is Clay Koplin, CEO of<br />

Cordova Electric Cooperative in Alaska,<br />

who was recently reappointed.<br />

South Dakota Hutterian Co-operative in dispute with authorities<br />

The South Dakota Public Utilities<br />

Commission has filed a complaint against<br />

the South Dakota Hutterian Co-operative<br />

arguing that the co-op has been operating<br />

as a grain trader without a license.<br />

Filed on 15 July, the complaint points out<br />

that the co-op has never held a grain buyer<br />

license from the Commission, despite<br />

acting as a grain buyer and adds that the<br />

co-op requires a license and bond in order<br />

to buy grains from individual farmers.<br />

“The manner in which SDHC conducts<br />

business is not different from any other<br />

co-op. Co-ops by their nature operate and<br />

exist for the benefit of their members.<br />

This does not exempt co-operatives from<br />

licensing laws. In fact, this Commission<br />

issued some 85 grain buyer licenses for cooperatives<br />

for this licensing year,” argues<br />

the complaint, adding that the co-op “has<br />

not been receptive to requests to become<br />

properly licensed and bonded”.<br />

Despite applying for a license after<br />

the complaint had been filed, the coop<br />

asks not to have to comply with state<br />

regulations on financial reporting for<br />

grain dealers. According to AG Week,<br />

the co-op’s attorney Julie Dvorak told a<br />

meeting of the Public Utilities Commission<br />

on 30 August that compliance would come<br />

at a significant extra cost to the co-op and<br />

its members.<br />

She argued that as a co-op only open<br />

to Hutterites, a Christian faith whose<br />

adepts practice a near-total community<br />

of goods, the reporting requirements were<br />

unnecessary. She added that producers<br />

were always paid and explained that the<br />

co-op had a bookkeeper and an accounting<br />

firm who deals with tax reporting.<br />

The co-op has obtained a 90-day<br />

temporary exemption to enable it to cope<br />

with the busy harvest season but it will<br />

have to comply with the requirement at<br />

the end of the period.<br />

Commission chair Chris Nelson told<br />

the co-op’s representative that making an<br />

exception in the case of the co-op would<br />

lead to other requests for exemptions,<br />

reports AG Week.<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 17

INDIA<br />

RBI revokes licences of two co-op banks as 15 more are fined<br />

Deccan Urban Co-operative Bank and<br />

Rupee Co-operative Bank had their<br />

licences revoked by the Reserve Bank of<br />

India (RBI) in August. RBI also issued fines<br />

to 15 urban co-operative banks (UCBs).<br />

RBI released a statement cancelling<br />

Rupee Co-operative Bank’s licence on<br />

10 August, on the grounds that it “does<br />

not have adequate capital and earning<br />

prospects”, meaning they would be<br />

unable to pay present depositors in full.<br />

RBI described the continuance of the<br />

bank as “prejudicial to the interests of its<br />

depositors”, and not in the public interest.<br />

Rupee Co-operative Bank ceased trading<br />

on 22 September.<br />

Deccan Urban Co-operative Bank’s<br />

licence was revoked eight days later for<br />

the same reasons, and has ceased trading.<br />

RBI also issued fines of Rs 10.00<br />

lakh (£10,832) each to: Bharat Heavy<br />

Electricals Employees’ Co-operative Bank<br />

for not adhering to directions regarding<br />

exposure norms or other restrictions;<br />

Darussalam Co-operative Urban Bank for<br />

the violation of directions issued under<br />

income recognition, asset classification,<br />

provisioning and other UCB related matters,<br />

as well directions regarding its board of<br />

directors; Nellore Co-operative Urban<br />

Bank for issuing loans to directors or their<br />

p RBI has an enforcer role<br />

relatives and firms and violating directions<br />

regarding exposure norms; and Kakinada<br />

Co-operative Town Bank for not adhering<br />

to directions regarding the establishment<br />

of a depositor education and awareness<br />

fund, as well as violating directions<br />

issued under income recognition, asset<br />

classification, provisioning and other UCB<br />

related matters.<br />

National Urban Co-operative Bank<br />

was fined Rs 5.00 lakh (£5,416) for noncompliance<br />

with RBI’s directions on<br />

income recognition, asset classification,<br />

provisioning and other related matters for<br />

UCBs, as was The Ottapalam Co-operative<br />

Urban Bank for contravening the same<br />

directions as well as the Know Your<br />

Customer (KYC) guidelines for urban coop<br />

banks. KYC guidelines are in place to<br />

prevent money laundering.<br />

Kendrapara Urban Cooperative Bank<br />

received a Rs 1.00 lakh (£1,083) fine for<br />

also contravening the KYC directions.<br />

Visakhapatnam Co-operative Bank was<br />

fined Rs 55.00 lakh (£59,552) for violation of<br />

directions relating to income recognition,<br />

asset classification, provisioning and<br />

other related matters, as well as finance<br />

for housing schemes.<br />

These penalties come after seven other<br />

co-ops received monetary fines earlier in<br />

August for a range of direction violations.<br />

Thodupuzha Urban Co-operative Bank<br />

has had restrictions placed on its activity<br />

for a six month period from 23 August, due<br />

to its liquidity position.<br />

Customers are no longer able to<br />

withdraw funds from the bank, and<br />

Thodupuzha is prohibited from accepting<br />

new deposits, granting or renewing loans<br />

or making any new investments without<br />

prior approval from RBI. A further four<br />

UCBs have had existing restriction periods<br />

extended.<br />

This kind of action from RBI has become<br />

a regular occurrence for India’s co-op<br />

banking sector in recent years. In 2020,<br />

UCBs were brought under the supervision<br />

of the RBI, giving it the power to audit coop<br />

banks as well to approve mergers and<br />

the appointment of CEOs.<br />


FairPrice Group to implement Progressive Wage Model<br />

NTUC FairPrice Group is implementing<br />

a wage structure to help increase the<br />

salaries of workers through upgrading<br />

skills and improving productivity.<br />

The retailer is following the Progressive<br />

Wage Model (PWM), which was developed<br />

by a committee of unions, employers and<br />

the Singaporean government.<br />

The initiative will cost the group S$70m<br />

(£43m) over a three-year period. FairPrice<br />

says the measure will increase the wages<br />

of non-executive staff, who make up 75%<br />

of its total workforce, to a level in line with<br />

their roles for their respective industries.<br />

CEO Vipul Chawla said: “Our staff<br />

are our most important asset and we<br />

value their dedication and service. We<br />

want to move forward as one team and<br />

are therefore going the extra mile and<br />

extending the initiative beyond our retail<br />

business to include employees across all<br />

our various businesses in FPG.<br />

“While companies have six months to<br />

work on the implementation of PWM, we<br />

expedited and implemented it right from<br />

the get-go, despite rising cost pressures<br />

and inflation, as we believe that a<br />

motivated and empowered workforce will<br />

deliver the best care for our customers.”<br />

The implementation began on 1<br />

September and will benefit 10,000 nonexecutive<br />

staff including full-time and<br />

part-time employees, regardless of<br />

nationality.<br />

The group consulted with the Food,<br />

Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union<br />

(FDAWU) ahead of the rollout.<br />

“It was indeed a pleasure working with<br />

FPG to roll out the PWM for the benefit of<br />

employees in FPG’s retail, food services<br />

and supply chain operations. We look<br />

forward to our continued partnership to<br />

do well, do good and do together for our<br />

workers,” said Tan Hock Soon, general<br />

secretary, FDAWU.<br />

18 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>


Fonterra rethinks sale of Australian arm after strong annual results<br />

Dairy co-op Fonterra hailed a “strong set of<br />

results” for the year to 31 July, with group<br />

revenue up 11% to NZ$23.4bn (£12.1bn).<br />

Total group normalised earnings<br />

before interest and tax (EBIT) was $991m<br />

(£514m), up 4%; normalised profit after<br />

tax rose 1% to $591m (£306m).<br />

The co-op said it was rethinking plans<br />

to sell its Australian business. CEO Miles<br />

Hurrell said his team had looked at a<br />

number of options and “decided it’s in<br />

the co-op’s best interests to maintain full<br />

ownership”.<br />

Plans to sell Fonterra’s Chilean<br />

business, Soprole, will still go ahead.<br />

Fonterra says its results reflect a 2021/22<br />

farmgate milk price of NZ$9.30 per kgMS.<br />

With a total dividend of 20 cents per share<br />

to fully shared-up farmers, the final cash<br />

pay-out for farmers is $9.50.<br />

CEO Miles Hurrell said that despite the<br />

increased costs associated with supply<br />

chain volatility, 2021/22 had been a good<br />

year for the co-op.<br />

“This year’s higher Farmgate Milk Price<br />

is the strongest it has ever been, which is<br />

great news for our farmers. New Zealand<br />

also benefits from this, with $13.7bn<br />

returned into the economy in milk price<br />

payments alone this year.”<br />

Looking at the reprieved Australian<br />

venture, Hurrell said: “Australia plays<br />

p Fonterra is owned by 10,500 d airy farmers in New Zealand<br />

an important role in our consumer<br />

strategy with a number of common and<br />

complementary brands and products<br />

and as a destination for our New Zealand<br />

milk solids.<br />

“The business is going well, and it will<br />

play a key role in helping us get to our<br />

2030 strategic targets.”<br />

Hurrell said the performance was<br />

helped by robust demand for dairy<br />

and strong margins in the ingredients<br />

channel , although higher milk prices had<br />

tightened margins.<br />

He said he was pleased with progress on<br />

Fonterra’s new business strategy, capital<br />

restructure and sustainability efforts,<br />

adding: “A globally competitive farmer<br />

owned co-op is in the best interests of the<br />

dairy industry, rural communities and<br />

New Zealand.<br />

Fonterra has announced a forecast<br />

<strong>2022</strong>/23 Farmgate Milk Price range<br />

of NZ$8.50–$10.00 per kgMS, with a<br />

midpoint of NZ$9.25 per kgMS.<br />

“The longer-term outlook for dairy<br />

remains positive,” added Hurrell. “In the<br />

medium-term, we expect to see an easing<br />

in some of the geopolitical events, namely<br />

the Covid-19 lockdowns in China and the<br />

economic challenges in Sri Lanka.”<br />

USA<br />


launches co-op<br />

development scheme<br />

for underserved farmers<br />

US co-op apex NCBA CLUSA has<br />

announced a new development project to<br />

increase the capacity of local agricultural<br />

production in rural America.<br />

The project will provide technical<br />

assistance and training to “historically<br />

underserved” farmers and ranchers –<br />

including those who are starting out,<br />

those with limited resources, veterans and<br />

socially disadvantaged producers.<br />

NCBA CLUSA is inviting suitable<br />

vendors to submit quotes of up to<br />

US$100,000 (£88,800) for technical<br />

assistance, including research, resources<br />

and delivering online events and training.<br />

It is also seeking applications for small<br />

grants to support this work. Eligible<br />

organisations can apply for up to $20,000<br />

(£17,700) to carry out a range of activities<br />

such as outreach, technical assistance,<br />

co-op development training and support,<br />

financial training, capacity building<br />

training and rural development to<br />

underserved farmers, ranchers and forest<br />

landowners.<br />

The programme is being delivered in<br />

partnership with the US Department<br />

of Agriculture’s American Rescue Plan<br />

Technical Assistance Investment (ARPTAI)<br />

Program, set up to increase understanding<br />

and participation around the USDA’s<br />

services in underserved farmers, ranchers,<br />

forest land owners and operators.<br />

NCBA CLUSA expects to offer these small<br />

grants every year for the next five years,<br />

in line with the activity of the ARPTAI<br />

funded ‘Strengthening Co-op Capacity for<br />

Historically Underserved Farmers’ project.<br />

The apex says the programme will<br />

“cultivate a community-led co-operative<br />

development ecosystem to invest in<br />

agricultural communities, address their<br />

needs and transform America’s food<br />

systems”.<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 19


BCCM announces speakers for co-op leadership summit<br />

The first speakers have been announced<br />

for the Leaders’ Summit and Industry<br />

Dinner, organised by the Business Council<br />

for Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM).<br />

Held on 17-18 November in Melbourne,<br />

the event promises “a high-level<br />

programme for executives and directors<br />

dealing head on with the need for a unified<br />

vision for growth for our sector and to help<br />

Australia address systemic risks to the<br />

economy through co-operation”.<br />

The event looks at the theme of “triple<br />

threat or triple opportunity”, looking at<br />

three trends – competition, conscious<br />

consumerism and consolidation.<br />

Key speakers include:<br />

• Jeremy Duffield, Ex-CEO and founder,<br />

Vanguard Australia<br />

• Enrique de los Rios, CEO, Unica Group<br />

(Spain)<br />

• Eric Balchunas, senior ETF analyst,<br />

Bloomberg Intelligence and author of<br />

The Bogle Effect<br />

• Ana Aguirre, president, Youth Network,<br />

International Co-operative Alliance<br />

p Ana Aguirre, president of the ICA Youth<br />

Network, will give the closing address<br />

Other contributors include Ben<br />

Macnamara, CEO of agri-co-op CBH<br />

Group, Eugenie Stockman, CEO of<br />

Cooperation Housing, Matt Rutter, CEO<br />

of Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative,<br />

Peter Hunt of Mutuo and Melina Morrison,<br />

CEO of BCCM.<br />

The event also features CEO breakouts<br />

which will address “four ideas to take<br />

Australia forward” – food security and<br />

sustainable domestic agriculture; a<br />

just transition to a greener economy;<br />

affordable housing for all Australians; and<br />

a sustainable and valued care workforce.<br />

Flood relief<br />

BCCM has also welcomed the first round<br />

of relief grants from the Australian<br />

Mutuals Foundation, which will go to 21<br />

community-based organisations affected<br />

by the floods which hit New South Wales<br />

and Queensland this year.<br />

The AMF flood grants are being delivered<br />

in partnership with BCCM, Summerland<br />

Credit Union and G&C Mutual Bank.<br />

Recipients include Nundah Community<br />

Enterprises, a Brisbane-worker co-op<br />

that supports refugees and people with<br />

disabilities by providing them with work.<br />

The AU$10,000 (£5,900) grant will help<br />

workers retain their jobs while the co-op<br />

recovers from loss of stock, equipment<br />

and contracts due to the floods.<br />

Space to<br />

work<br />

Space to<br />

grow<br />

Space for<br />

change<br />

Leading the movement in workspaces for those who lead the change,<br />

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Visit www.ethicalproperty.co.uk Email sales@ethicalproperty.co.uk or call 01865 207 810 to find out more<br />

20 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

KENYA<br />

Co-op Bank of<br />

Kenya reports 45% growth<br />

in half-year profit<br />

The Co-op Bank of Kenya has reported a<br />

growth in profits in its latest quarterlies.<br />

The bank reported a Kshs15.3bn<br />

(£110.1m) profit before tax for the second<br />

quarter, up from Kshs10.5bn (£75.5m) in<br />

the same period for the previous year.<br />

This represents a 45% growth in profit<br />

since 2021. The bank’s post-tax profit<br />

was Kshs11.5bn (£82.7m) in 2021, up from<br />

Kshs7.4bn (£53.2m) in 2021.<br />

Based on its performance the bank has<br />

been able to deliver a return on equity of<br />

24.2% to its shareholders.<br />

The total value of the bank’s assets rose<br />

5.4% to Kshs603.9bn (£4.3bn) compared<br />

with Kshs573bn (£4.1bn) in the same<br />

period last year. The bank also saw an<br />

increase in its total operating income<br />

by 17.8% to Kshs34.4bn(£247.2m) from<br />

Kshs29.2bn(£209.9m).<br />

It also reports that it has been able<br />

to serve nine million account holders<br />

through its “universal banking model”<br />

and “sales force effectiveness”.<br />

The bank’s cost to income ratio has<br />

fallen to 46% in this quarter from 59%.<br />

Through its <strong>digital</strong> strategy, the bank has<br />

also moved 94% of its transactions to<br />

alternative delivery channels including<br />

internet and mobile banking and a 24<br />

hour contact centre.<br />

Managing director and CEO Gideon<br />

Muriuki said: “The strong performance<br />

by the bank is in line with the strategic<br />

focus on sustainable growth, resilience<br />

and agility,” and later added: “The Cooperative<br />

Bank Group continues to pursue<br />

strategic initiatives that focus on resilience<br />

and growth in the various economic<br />

sectors. This is anchored on a successful<br />

universal banking model supported by<br />

an innovative <strong>digital</strong> presence, a wide<br />

physical footprint, nine million customers<br />

and the unique synergies in the over 15<br />

million member co-operative movement<br />

that is the largest in Africa.”<br />

Glanbia Co-op rebrands as Tirlán after buyout<br />

Ireland’s Glanbia Co-operative Society<br />

and Glanbia have rebranded as Tirlán –<br />

which stands for “land of abundance”.<br />

The two businesses adopted a new<br />

identity to reflect the co-op’s acquisition<br />

of the remaining 40% stake in Glanbia<br />

Ireland from Glanbia plc to become the<br />

sole owners of the business.<br />

Ugandan credit co-ops set up national federation<br />

A federation for community credit cooperatives<br />

has been launched in Uganda<br />

to represent the sector and help it meet<br />

members’ needs. Formed under the<br />

supervision of the Ministry of Trade<br />

Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), the<br />

initiative is part of the Uganda Saemaul<br />

Geumgo Project, launched in 2018.<br />

Indonesian minister sets out plan for new co-op law<br />

Indonesia’s co-ops minister Teten Masduki<br />

said a forthcoming Cooperatives Bill will<br />

build resilience into the sector. Antara<br />

News reported Masduki’s speech in capital<br />

Jakarta, where he set out plans including<br />

a new independent regulator for co-op<br />

savings and loans, a deposit insurance<br />

scheme to protect finance customers, and<br />

tougher penalties for business abuses.<br />

Singapore’s credit co-ops weigh emerging trends<br />

The Singapore National Co-operative<br />

Federation brought together more than<br />

70 representatives from the co-op credit<br />

sector last month to discuss finance<br />

trends. A key topic was Buy Now Pay<br />

Later financial services, which have seen<br />

strong growth since the pandemic, and<br />

delegates were told to educate customers<br />

on their use.<br />

Filene Research Institute and Woccu will share premises<br />

The World Council of Credit Unions<br />

(Woccu) has moved into the Filene<br />

Research Institute’s office in Madison,<br />

Wisconsin, after remote working prompted<br />

a rethink of its office needs. It also needed<br />

a site that could accommodate the staff<br />

of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit<br />

Unions, Global Women’s Leadership<br />

Network and Wycup,<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 21

MEET<br />

Edward Rosen<br />

Project director, Lambeth GP<br />

Food Co-op<br />

This month we speak to Ed Rosen, project director at Lambeth GP<br />

Food Co-op, who has also worked in the NHS as an educationalist.<br />

Set up in 2013, Lambeth GP Food Co-op brings together patients,<br />

doctors, nurses and local residents who have created a network<br />

of food-growing NHS gardens. The co-op serves both an economic<br />

and a therapeutic purpose, helping patients with long-term health<br />

conditions while encouraging local food procurement.<br />



We are a co-operative, but we are distributed across<br />

the whole borough of Lambeth, so our work is<br />

spread across a large area. One of our core activities<br />

is growing food; at the moment we are coming to<br />

the end of the growing season, so we’ll be selling<br />

our vegetables to NHS staff. Tomorrow we’re going<br />

to visit Sutton Community Farm – I hope to build<br />

a relationship with them as we’d like to increase<br />

our growing activity. On a regular day we focus on<br />

supporting patients, some of whom are members<br />

of Lambeth GP Food Co-op. Then once a month<br />

we have a co-operative activity, such as selling<br />

produce at King’s College Hospital. The idea is to<br />

create a network of NHS gardens across Lambeth<br />



The project started as an idea that was being<br />

discussed in the Department of Health to fund<br />

I’m confident that co-ops<br />

have a contribution to make<br />

to the reshaping of the health<br />

service within primary and<br />

community care<br />

pilot projects focusing on social enterprise,<br />

mutuals and co-operatives. This was in 2006.<br />

Nothing happened, but it led to some of us<br />

reflecting on how difficult it was to create co-ops<br />

and mutuals within the public sector, especially<br />

within the NHS. There just didn’t seem to be a way<br />

in or an alignment between the ideas and values<br />

of the co-operative movement as we understood<br />

it, and the NHS. The NHS has the value of ‘free<br />

at the point of need’, but has a very different<br />

organisational culture. Fast forward a bit, and<br />

in 2012 I made an initial proposal to Lambeth<br />

Council, which at that time was a co-operative<br />

council and part of the Cooperative Councils’<br />

Innovation Network. Lambeth said ‘Yes’. We<br />

then talked to the NHS in Lambeth, and they said<br />

‘Yes.’ We had three years’ funding to get it up and<br />

running, and we started with three GP surgeries<br />

in Lambeth in March 2013. Next March is our 10th<br />

anniversary.<br />


We started working with GPs based on the simple<br />

idea of building gardens at GP surgeries, in<br />

alleyways and unused spaces. The aim was to<br />

transform these spaces into a living and flourishing<br />

vegetable gardens for patients who have long term<br />

health conditions like diabetes and arthritis. We’ve<br />

built gardens at 13 GP surgeries in Lambeth, but not<br />

all of them were successful.<br />

At the moment we are working with five GP<br />

surgeries, and we also have vegetable gardens<br />

at two large teaching hospitals, Guy’s and St<br />

Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital.<br />

22 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>


Our members are patients, nurses, doctors,<br />

NHS staff and local residents. We’re actually<br />

starting to rethink what it means to be a member<br />

of Lambeth GP Food Co-op. So we’re going to<br />

talk about membership and different categories<br />

of membership in the autumn to create a<br />

membership drive.<br />


The first wave happened in spring and we had to<br />

close all the gardens because they’re in hospitals<br />

and GP sites. We transformed our activity to support<br />

people who were self isolating. I mentioned that<br />

we were working with patients who have diabetes<br />

and arthritis; they tend to be older and a bit more<br />

isolated, because they have long-term conditions.<br />

We started working with Lambeth Council on<br />

its emergency food pack distribution network,<br />

and included a simple recipe and a pack of seeds.<br />

This was packed for us by the Co-op Group,<br />

particularly Ian (head of wine procurement ) and<br />

his friends.<br />

Then we went on to launch the Gardening at<br />

Home project, which supported 13 patients.<br />

They were given a garden at home pack and<br />

were linked with a gardening buddy who was a<br />

trained gardener and also had a background in<br />

either nursing or social work. The buddy would<br />

phone them every two weeks, asking them<br />

how they were getting on growing their tomato<br />

plant. It was important to ensure they didn’t feel<br />

abandoned by the NHS. We gave them a focus -<br />

growing plants and veg at home.<br />

The buddies weren’t clinically trained, so<br />

we kept the boundary very tight. If there was a<br />

problem, they’d come back to me or to one of the<br />

nurses who was overseeing the scheme, because<br />

they weren’t trained to deal with medical issues.<br />

They were there just to provide support for them<br />

going through that difficult first winter. So that’s<br />

what we did. We were funded externally to do<br />

that work.<br />





The project was called Sowing Roots and it was led<br />

by Janine Nelson from the Garden Museum, who<br />

also helped set up the Lambeth GP Food Co-op in<br />

2013. Lambeth GP Food Co-op community gardener<br />

Earline Hilda Castillo Binger was one of the 15<br />

gardeners interviewed as part of the project.<br />

The project journeys into the history of the<br />

gardening cultures and traditions that Caribbean<br />

people carried with them when they moved to the<br />

UK after World War II: from breadfruit, provision<br />

grounds, and botanical gardens, to chocho, ackee<br />

and the green spaces of South London. The oral<br />

history recordings are now part of the Garden<br />

Museum’s archive.<br />



As the social crisis has deepened in the UK, the<br />

NHS has become more alert to the model that we<br />

have developed at Lambeth GP Food Co-op, which<br />

we share with everyone. We don’t franchise it so<br />

people in their communities can develop their own<br />

models.<br />

I’m confident that co-ops have a contribution to<br />

make to the reshaping of the health service within<br />

primary and community care. We have at least<br />

780,000 people managing long Covid-19. The GPs<br />

can’t do anything for them because it’s a long-term<br />

condition, and we don’t have a pill that cures it. We<br />

also have thousands of people who are still either<br />

self isolating, or semi self isolating at home.<br />

I think that what we’ve developed is a very first<br />

stage model around growing at home that offers<br />

a platform for thinking about developing a cooperative<br />

that is helping people improve their<br />

health and well-being when it looks hopeless. And<br />

that’s going to be really challenging, but there are<br />

many people that we’ve spoken to who we couldn’t<br />

reach out and help because we didn’t have the<br />

resources. So we’re planning to rerun the growing<br />

at home project this winter, if funding permits.<br />

Although we’re a food co-op, our activity around<br />

food is only one aspect of our work. We have plenty<br />

more ideas that we want to explore.<br />

p Members at the<br />

Jennie Lee Garden,<br />

which has been part<br />

of Lambeth GP Food<br />

Co-op since 2015<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 23

C<br />

M<br />

Y<br />

CM<br />

MY<br />

CY<br />

CMY<br />

K<br />


Co-ops pay tribute to Queen<br />

Elizabeth II<br />

Moments like this certainly do bring<br />

people together (page 6-7). I was on an<br />

early shift on a Co-op food till [the day<br />

after she died], so was able to encourage<br />

discussion and reminiscing within my<br />

local community – particularly amongst<br />

the elderly, to whom the bad news hit<br />

really hard.<br />

Pam Bailey<br />

via Facebook<br />

Jo Whitfield leaves Co-op<br />

Group<br />

The departure of Jo Whitfield (right) from<br />

the Group (page 5) must be the red hot<br />

favourite for “least surprising news of<br />

the year”. I have no inside information,<br />

but I never expected her to return after<br />

giving, in my view, a flimsy reason for<br />

taking several months off. I suspect – as<br />

always – there is much that we do not<br />

know – and probably never will. It was<br />

reported that she was blindsided by the<br />

abrupt departure of Steve Murrells and the<br />

equally abrupt appointment of a new CEO,<br />

a job she had allegedly expected.<br />

David Stanbury<br />

Plymouth<br />

Have your say<br />

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letters@thenews.coop<br />

@coopnews<br />

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is a founder member at Co-operative<br />

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15.11.<strong>2022</strong><br />

l 11am GMT<br />

Q Logo - Sky - CMYK - Black Text.pdf 1 26<br />

bit.ly/3SiYcAY<br />

24 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>


Ways Forward <strong>2022</strong> – Co-operating for Climate Solutions<br />

Why is climate justice important for the<br />

co-op movement? How can co-operation<br />

and co-operatives be seen as relevant in<br />

the climate movement? What is the best<br />

way to build effective alliances across<br />

communities that address the need for<br />

systemic change?<br />

These are some of the key questions at<br />

the Ways Forward conference on Thursday<br />

20 and Friday 21 <strong>October</strong>.<br />

Over 150 co-operators are expected to<br />

gather at Central Hall in Manchester’s<br />

Northern Quarter to share information<br />

and strengthen the co-operative networks<br />

that are needed to act on these issues.<br />

The focus of the two-day event will<br />

be “on the key role of co-operation in<br />

effective community-led responses to the<br />

climate crisis that not only enable us to<br />

take action to cut our emissions, but do so<br />

in a just way”.<br />

Speakers include Steve Graby (Greater<br />

Manchester Coalition of Disabled<br />

People), Elle Glenny (Tipping Point),<br />

Amy Hall (Bunker Housing Co-op), and<br />

representatives of Unicorn Grocery and<br />

Manchester Veg People.<br />

The event is organised by Platform 6,<br />

which supports new and existing co-ops,<br />

and encourages collaboration between<br />

‘disparate but broadly aligned’ social<br />

movements, public sector organisations,<br />

businesses and the third sector.<br />

Through a series of workshop<br />

discussions, panel sessions and plenaries,<br />

the Ways Forward conference will cover<br />

a range of topics, including energy,<br />

housing, education, disability, austerity,<br />

retrofit, food and farming, diversity and<br />

anti-racism, politics and economics.<br />

The first day of the conference will<br />

start with an opening keynote address,<br />

followed by a panel discussion and Q&A,<br />

exploring the key issues driving the<br />

conference and setting the scene for the<br />

sessions to follow. After lunch, attendees<br />

will be able to participate in parallel<br />

workshops and a closing plenary session.<br />

A social cabaret event will take place on<br />

Thursday evening, led by ‘international<br />

man of dignity’ Deacon Martin, performer<br />

and director at the Church of the Eternal<br />

question, which, according to its website,<br />

is the world’s first virtual church and<br />

“…to organised religion what anti-matter<br />

is to matter”.<br />

The focus for day two will be around<br />

the role of the public sector, through<br />

strategies such as community wealth<br />

building, in enabling co-operation at scale<br />

in pursuit of inclusive green community<br />

and economic development.<br />

Registration for the event is open<br />

now, and in an effort to make the event<br />

accessible to as many as possible, Ways<br />

Forward are offering a range of pricing<br />

options to help those on restricted<br />

budgets, as well as a number of bursaries<br />

to fund those for whom the ticket price is<br />

a barrier.<br />

People can also sign up for volunteer<br />

places. In exchange for a ticket, volunteers<br />

help out throughout the day from set-up to<br />

tidy up. Lunch will be provided, and when<br />

they aren’t needed volunteers are free to<br />

participate in the conference.<br />

This will be the 8th Ways Forward<br />

conference, after a break since Ways<br />

Forward 7 in 2019 forced by the Covid-19<br />

pandemic. Themes covered in previous<br />

<strong>edition</strong>s have included <strong>digital</strong> technology,<br />

governance, membership and people’s<br />

power in the workplace.<br />

Ways Forward highlights the role of cooperation<br />

and mutual aid in response to<br />

the pandemic, and aims to use this year’s<br />

conference to explore how best to take<br />

forward this approach in the context of<br />

the climate crisis.<br />

“As the cost of living crisis bites, the<br />

deep inequalities in our society are<br />

increasingly plain to see,” said an event<br />

spokesperson. “The need for inclusive<br />

economies and climate justice has never<br />

been clearer or more urgent.<br />

“This conference will show that effective<br />

solutions already exist, that they are built<br />

on sound values and principles, and<br />

that through wider co-operation – across<br />

communities and social movements,<br />

between public, private and third sectors –<br />

we can scale these out widely and at speed.”<br />

For further information on the<br />

programme and tickets, visit<br />

waysforward.coop<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 25

Lessons on<br />

housing<br />

from Zurich<br />

q Esther Alegre, a<br />

resident of Sostre<br />

Civic co-op in<br />

Catalonia, Spain<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

Representatives from housing co-ops around the<br />

world met in Zurich on 22 September to explore<br />

how effective policies can foster affordable cooperative<br />

housing.<br />

The event was hosted by WBG Zurich, the<br />

largest of nine regional associations of Swiss<br />

housing co-operatives. In Zurich there are 100<br />

housing co-ops with a 23% market share of all<br />

apartments in the city. Nationally, there are 1,700<br />

limited profit housing organisations, including<br />

housing co-ops. Together these account for 10%<br />

of the total housing stock in Switzerland.<br />

In 2011, the city set a specific goal to increase<br />

the proportion of apartments by not-for-profit<br />

housing organisations from a quarter to a third<br />

of all rental apartments by 2015. This target<br />

has been met and the city still views co-ops as<br />

crucial to the promotion of affordable housing.<br />

City-led mechanisms to support housing<br />

co-ops include interest-free loans for land<br />

purchase, and free long-term renewable leases<br />

on city-owned land.<br />

Stephanie Fürer, scientific associate, Swiss<br />

Federal Office for Housing Switzerland (UNECE)<br />

said the country also supports co-ops through its<br />

Rolling Fund. Money is granted to co-ops based<br />

on the quality of dwellings, disability access<br />

and environmental considerations. This fund is<br />

administered by co-op umbrella organisations<br />

and proceeds from regular amortisations are<br />

reused for new loans.<br />

Support is also granted via the Bond Issuing<br />

Cooperative for Limited Profit Housing,<br />

established in 1991 by the Swiss government and<br />

the co-op housing movement. It raises cheap<br />

finance for non-profit house-building.<br />

“There’s close monitoring on who gets the<br />

money for what projects so the default rate is<br />

close to zero,” said Fürer, adding that the scheme<br />

has no cost to the government. “It’s something<br />

that could be copied by other countries, if there’s<br />

political will.”<br />

A key ingredient in this success is the<br />

autonomy of co-op apexes, who administer<br />

the process. “Needs are met well because the<br />

umbrella organisations know what they need –<br />

they are close to the members,” added Fürer.<br />

26 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

Julie La Palme, secretary general of Cooperative<br />

Housing International (CHI), said: “We<br />

can see the success of co-operative housing in<br />

Switzerland, and particularly, here, in Zurich ...<br />

and this is a model that is worth emulating in<br />

other parts of the world.<br />

But Sorcha Edwards, secretary general of<br />

Housing Europe, warns that increasing supply<br />

alone will not solve the housing crisis in Europe<br />

or around the world. She referred delegates to<br />

her organisation’s 2021 report on affordable<br />

housing, which looks at strategic land policy,<br />

purposeful investment and good governance.<br />

“A co-op approach to housing has to be part<br />

of the solution to this massive global crisis,” she<br />

said. “But it doesn’t come on its own. We can’t<br />

only rely on people power; the right regulatory<br />

structures and financing must in place to allow<br />

those co-operatives to flourish.”<br />

Housing Europe’s research found that the<br />

sector is more likely to promote micro grids<br />

for local renewable energy production. Some<br />

regulatory constraints prevent co-ops from using<br />

the local grid to share the energy they produce<br />

between different buildings.<br />

Legislation can also be a barrier. In East<br />

Europe, housing stock is primarily in individual<br />

ownership and there is a lack of regulatory<br />

frameworks, institutions and instruments for<br />

rental and co-op housing.<br />

Seeing that they faced common challenges,<br />

groups from Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary,<br />

Serbia and Slovenia set up MOBA Housing SCE,<br />

a European network of housing co-ops, in 2017.<br />

“Financial actors are not willing to take risks.<br />

They’re not willing to support pioneers and<br />

experimental actors, and since the sector doesn’t<br />

exist, we only have pioneers and experimental<br />

actors,” said MOBA’s Zsuzsi Pósfai.<br />

MOBA SCE set up its own Housing Development<br />

Fund in 2021 with €21,600 (£19.260) of seed<br />

capital from ABZ housing co-op in Zurich.<br />

“It looks like we will be able to add some<br />

additional seed funding from another grant into<br />

this accelerator. And from this MOBA can give<br />

short-term loans to its members,” added Pósfai.<br />

Members applying for loans have to pitch<br />

their project to MOBA, which assess its financial<br />

viability. They must pay an affordable interest<br />

on the loan to the co-op, which will cover the<br />

operational costs.<br />

In Barcelona, Sostre Civic co-op runs multiple<br />

housing projects across Catalonia, the most<br />

recent being Cirerers, launched in 2016. The city<br />

of Barcelona granted Sostre land to build housing<br />

units in Roquetas, a neighbourhood close to<br />

mountains. Residents have now moved in.<br />

“It is important to have Sostre Civic because<br />

they provide the tools that groups can then use<br />

and take decisions in their own projects,” said<br />

Esther Alegre, one of the residents of the co-op.<br />

Ander Zabala Gómez, administrative assistant<br />

of Sostre Civic, highlighted the importance of<br />

having an ethical bank to get co-op housing<br />

projects off the ground. “The solidarity economy<br />

network makes it possible for these ethical<br />

banks to exist. You need a whole ecosystem that<br />

supports each other. Traditional banks do not<br />

trust housing co-ops,” he said, adding that the<br />

city’s support through the lease of the land was<br />

also crucial to the project’s success.<br />

Some co-ops support other co-ops abroad.<br />

Switzerland’s largest housing co-op, Allgemeine<br />

Baugenossenschaft Zürich (ABZ), runs a solidarity<br />

fund which has backed 45 projects worldwide<br />

with CHF1.35m (£1.26m) in the past three years.<br />

The symposium also explored the idea of<br />

members who can afford it paying more to<br />

subsidise the rent of members on lower income.<br />

The co-operative principle of equality can be<br />

interpreted differently by different co-ops, said<br />

Blaise Lambert, CEO of the UK's Confederation<br />

of Co-operative Housing and a board member<br />

of CHI. “There are opportunities with varying<br />

price models for people on higher incomes<br />

to be supporting people on lower or even no<br />

incomes. But again, there are some in the co-op<br />

housing world who think that that’s a complete<br />

anathema to what the model should be about –<br />

everyone paying the same.”<br />

Overall the key lessons to be drawn from the<br />

symposium were the need to have enabling<br />

legislative frameworks, supporting local and<br />

national governments, a wider co-operative<br />

ecosystem and ethical finance providers.<br />

p Julie La Palme from<br />

CHI tells delegates<br />

there are lessons to<br />

learn from Zurich<br />

A CO-OP<br />



HAS TO BE<br />





OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 27

Cooperation<br />

Jackson fights<br />

for a solution<br />

to the US city’s<br />

water crisis<br />

‘We must be<br />

clear about<br />

building and<br />

fighting for<br />

the practical<br />

communitybased<br />

solutions<br />

to the water and<br />

climate crisis’<br />

By Miles Hadfield<br />

In late August, around 15,000 residents in<br />

Jackson, Mississippi, were left with no access to<br />

safe drinking water after flooding knocked out a<br />

treatment plant.<br />

The crisis saw president Joe Biden declare a<br />

federal emergency to trigger aid efforts – but<br />

it has also intensified debate in the city over<br />

alleged racial discrimination, infrastructure<br />

neglect and shifting local demographics.<br />

These issues have already brought efforts<br />

to reform the city in the shape of Cooperation<br />

Jackson, a network of worker co-ops which<br />

wants to develop a series of democratic<br />

institutions to empower workers and residents,<br />

and address the needs of poor, unemployed,<br />

Black or Latino people.<br />

It has now launched the Justice 4 Jackson<br />

campaign to fix the water system and put<br />

right what it claims are “decades of systematic<br />

and intentional neglect due to environmental<br />

racism, capital flight and deindustrialisation”.<br />

“This collapse didn’t have to happen,” it<br />

says. “As a result of the city’s declining tax<br />

base over the decade, it cannot pay for the<br />

repairs by itself.”<br />

Because Jackson is home to the state capitol<br />

and serves as a base for the federal government,<br />

its water system is used by those entities, and<br />

“they must pay their fair share in overhauling<br />

and modernising the system,” the campaign<br />

argues. But, it claims, “the Republican,<br />

predominantly white, party leadership<br />

that has dominated state government for<br />

generations now, fundamentally refuses”.<br />

This echoes the frustrations of residents<br />

who argue that systemic racism has led<br />

to the neglect of a city with an 80% Black<br />

population, with local activists telling NPR<br />

they have had to boil water for decades. NPR<br />

reports the city government’s frustration that<br />

it does not receive the funds needed to fix<br />

the infrastructure, while in turn, the state<br />

government blames local mismanagement.<br />

On the part of federal government, Michael<br />

Regan, Environmental Protection Agency<br />

(EPA) administrator, said the city could be<br />

eligible for government loans and support<br />

under the Biden administration’s recent<br />

infrastructure package, but warned this would<br />

be contingent on “a plan that demonstrates<br />

how those resources will be spent”.<br />

Mississippi’s Republican state governor,<br />

Tate Reeves, declared a state of emergency<br />

in response to the water crisis on 30 August,<br />

deploying the National Guard and instructing<br />

the Mississippi Emergency Management<br />

Agency to lead the effort in distributing<br />

drinking water and non-drinking water to<br />

the city.<br />

His state government also opened seven<br />

state distribution sites to offer bottled water,<br />

bulk non-potable water and hand sanitiser.<br />

“The state is marshalling tremendous<br />

resources to protect the people of our capital<br />

city,” said Reeves. “It will take time for that<br />

to come to fruition. But we are here in times<br />

of crisis, for anyone in the state who needs it.<br />

That’s my responsibility as governor, and what<br />

my administration is committed to.”<br />

28 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

t Jackson was<br />

flooded in August<br />

when the Pearl River<br />

burst its banks after<br />

storms (Image: Getty)<br />

Water pressure was restored to the city in<br />

mid-September, but it is still unsafe to drink<br />

and needs to be boiled. Videos have been<br />

posted showing dirty water coming from<br />

taps. Some of the pipes are 100 years old and<br />

some residents have issued lawsuits claiming<br />

lead poisoning.<br />

“This water system broke over several years<br />

and it would be inaccurate to claim it is totally<br />

solved in the matter of less than a week,”<br />

added Reeves. “There may be more bad days<br />

in the future. We have, however, reached a<br />

place where people in Jackson can trust that<br />

water will come out of the faucet, toilets can<br />

be flushed and fires can be put out.”<br />

Reeves says that one option on the table is<br />

privatisation, which would see management<br />

of the water system outsourced to a contractor.<br />

Meanwhile, the city’s Democratic mayor,<br />

Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who ran for office on<br />

a radical programme, said he would consider<br />

a “maintenance agreement” with a private<br />

company to help alleviate staffing shortages,<br />

but has been vocal in his opposition to<br />

total privatisation.<br />

Privatisation is likely to be controversial<br />

with city residents, after a 2010 deal with<br />

Siemens to install water meters and oversee<br />

billing ended in fiasco, with some residents<br />

receiving no bills and others receiving<br />

inaccurate, inflated ones.<br />

Lumumba’s administration launched a<br />

lawsuit against the company which ended in<br />

February 2020 with an US$89.8m (£79.9m)<br />

settlement, but the failure of the system<br />

increased pressure on the city’s infrastructure<br />

and finances.<br />

Cooperation Jackson is calling for<br />

community-based solutions. It wants a drastic<br />

overhaul of utilities in the city and says there<br />

are decades of neglect to overcome. Its Justice<br />

4 Jackson campaign has four demands – that:<br />

• state and federal government immediately<br />

fund the complete overhaul of the Jackson<br />

water treatment and delivery systems<br />

• the new system fully remains within the<br />

democratic control of the city of Jackson<br />

• the new system be built by the people of<br />

Jackson and that over 50% of the contracts<br />

awarded be granted to either contractors<br />

from Jackson and/or Black and other minority<br />

contractors<br />

• the new system be ecologically designed and<br />

built with as many locally and or regionally<br />

sourced resources as possible.<br />

As well as seeking government action,<br />

Cooperation Jackson wants to take proactive<br />

steps to improve the situation through<br />

community action, and is proposing an<br />

emergency response and mutual aid network<br />

“that can serve our community in the event<br />

of water outages, future polar vortex freezes,<br />

tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or massive<br />

social unrest”.<br />

The campaign adds: “The suffering<br />

communities of Jackson cannot and must<br />

not wait on state and federal redress that<br />

might not ever come, given the ongoing<br />

legacy of racial neglect. So, we must be clear<br />

about building and fighting for the practical<br />

community-based solutions to the water and<br />

climate crisis that is underneath it, that we can<br />

implement ourselves.”<br />

And it is proposing the development of<br />

community-based resources, including water<br />

catchment, treatment and delivery systems,<br />

solar farms and food networks to give Jackson’s<br />

people more sustainability and autonomy.<br />

Cooperation Jackson is calling on supporters<br />

to donate to its organisation, or to other social<br />

justice groups in the city which do work<br />

in line with its vision; to contact President<br />

Biden and their representatives in the Senate<br />

and Congress in support of the campaign’s<br />

demands; and to volunteer if they have<br />

any relevant construction skills for water<br />

catchment systems and solar installations.<br />

Co-op News has contacted the office of<br />

Tate Reeves at Mississippi state government<br />

for comment.<br />

p A campaigner for<br />

clean water<br />

This collapse<br />

didn’t have<br />

to happen ...<br />

As a result<br />

of the city’s<br />

declining tax<br />

base over<br />

the decade,<br />

it cannot pay<br />

for the repairs<br />

by itself<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 29

Electricity co-ops weigh the<br />

costs of the<br />

energy crisis<br />

THE<br />




ALMOST £58<br />



By Miles Hadfield<br />

The energy crisis is forcing price hikes around<br />

the world; in the UK, millions are in fear of fuel<br />

poverty as winter looms, and many businesses<br />

are concerned about unaffordable fuel costs,<br />

prompting new prime minister Liz Truss to<br />

announce a price cap, leaving the typical<br />

domestic bill at £2,500.<br />

The country’s biggest energy co-op, Your Co-op<br />

Energy, a joint venture between Octopus Energy<br />

and the Midcounties Co-op, has posted a Q&A<br />

for members on its website, noting that “the<br />

government price cap has increased by almost<br />

£58 per month for a typical home, which means<br />

that families all across the country are wondering<br />

how they can take control and do something to<br />

manage their energy bills”.<br />

It says it “takes great pride in our relationship<br />

with our customers and we understand that<br />

this is a strenuous time for everyone”, but adds,<br />

“tariffs have gone up this much because it costs<br />

us five times more to buy energy now compared<br />

to last year. Our new variable price is protected<br />

by the price cap.”<br />

Co-op Energy says there has been an average<br />

increase of 54% in the cost of energy price<br />

cap was last set six months ago. “If you’re<br />

coming off a fixed price, your increase may be<br />

more,” it warns.<br />

One question it addresses relates to the cost<br />

of renewable energy: the crisis was sparked by<br />

soaring gas prices resulting from the Ukraine<br />

war, but 100% renewable tariffs are also rising.<br />

Co-op Energy tells customers: “It’s down to the<br />

way the market works. The grid sets a single half<br />

hourly price for all types of energy in the system.<br />

That price often ends up based on the most<br />

expensive source in the mix which is generally<br />

gas, which is why even on green tariffs right now,<br />

gas is setting the price.”<br />

It adds that the price change only affects<br />

customers on flexible tariffs, not its fixed tariffs,<br />

and is contacting those affected to discuss their<br />

options. “We’re committed to making renewable<br />

energy affordable for everyone, so we’d prefer<br />

to never raise prices,” it adds. “Our relationship<br />

with Octopus Energy has meant that we have<br />

been able to offer alternatives during this hard<br />

financial time.”<br />

Meanwhile, Community Energy England (CEE),<br />

which represents member-owned renewables<br />

across the country, welcomed the energy cap –<br />

and suggests its members take advantage of the<br />

government advice that “companies with the<br />

wherewithall should be looking at ways they can<br />

improve energy efficiency and increase direct<br />

energy generation” by contacting local firms.<br />

But, it warns, the energy cap “does not solve<br />

the problem and comes packaged with a lot of<br />

downsides”, with millions already struggling<br />

with the cost of living. Even with the price cap,<br />

“potentially more than 7 million households will<br />

be struggling to pay energy bills – and will be<br />

going cold and/or hungry this winter”, it adds.<br />

The government’s support package could cost<br />

upward of £100bn, to be funded by borrowing<br />

and ultimately borne by the taxpayer. “This<br />

money will effectively add to the excess profits of<br />

the oil and gas giants who should be contributing<br />

to paying for it,” says CEE, criticising the<br />

decision not to levy a windfall tax on gas and oil<br />

industry profits.<br />

It is also concerned about government<br />

ambitions to increase gas sourcing from the<br />

North Sea, and to lift the ban on fracking – which<br />

would not cut the price of gas, or energy bills.<br />

“They will also temporarily suspend all ‘green<br />

levies’ on electricity bills which pay for many<br />

measures in the energy transition,” CEE adds.<br />

“They made no statement about how these<br />

things will continue to be paid for or where some<br />

of them will simply stop.”<br />

It notes the government promise of an Energy<br />

Supply Task Force “to focus action on securing<br />

domestic energy supply to reduce energy price<br />

shocks from international factors”, a fresh look<br />

30 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

at the regulatory system, and a review to ensure<br />

that Net Zero will be achieved by 2050 in a way<br />

that is pro-business and pro-growth. This will<br />

be conducted by Chris Skidmore MP, described<br />

by CEE as “a previous energy minister, who set<br />

up the Net Zero Support Group of Tory MPs to<br />

counter the [climate-sceptic] Net Zero Scrutiny<br />

Group led by Steve Baker and Craig Mackinlay”.<br />

The crisis is a global one, prompting comment<br />

from energy co-ops around the world. In the<br />

Philippines, the Association of Mindanao<br />

Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) – a coalition of 34<br />

electric co-ops – warned that the Ukraine crisis<br />

has inflated the price of the coal that generates<br />

much of the power on the island.<br />

Amreco president Jose Raul Saniel, in a<br />

statement to the press, said: “Why are we being<br />

blamed when we are just the collectors of the<br />

payments for different charges imposed by<br />

power suppliers, transmission operators, and<br />

government taxes?”<br />

Sergio Dagooc, from the Association of<br />

Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC), agreed,<br />

and called on the government to take action to<br />

stop the independent power producers dictating<br />

energy prices.<br />

In the US, NRECA, the apex for rural electric<br />

co-ops, is running a weekly fuel price watch<br />

– a useful resource in a country where retail<br />

electricity rates have risen nearly 16% between<br />

August 2021 and August <strong>2022</strong>, according to the<br />

US Department of Labor.<br />

Many co-ops across the country have been<br />

forced to increase rates, but some are working<br />

to limit the impact; in Wyoming, commercial<br />

electricity rates in June <strong>2022</strong> were 20% lower<br />

than the national average – with the Basin<br />

Electric Power Cooperative board voting on<br />

10 August for a rate decrease that will save its<br />

members approximately $33.5m in 2023.<br />

General manager Todd Telesz said: “One of the<br />

unique benefits of the co-operative is that when<br />

a co-op does well financially, its members do,<br />

too. The margins generated at the co-op benefit<br />

every single member at the end of the line.”<br />

The co-op – whose electricity portfolio<br />

includes coal, gas and renewables – also<br />

voted in July to approve a US$15m (£13.3m) bill<br />

credit on members’ July power bills as well as<br />

the retirement of $13.2m (£11.75) in patronage<br />

capital credits. Wyoming news site Cowboy State<br />

Daily also reported that wholesale power co-op<br />

Tri-State reduced its rates by 2% in March 2021,<br />

and then another 2% in March <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

“The not-for-profit co-operative business<br />

model supports power affordability. With rugged<br />

terrain and fewer customers per mile, it is more<br />

(image: OgnjenO/GettyImages)<br />

expensive to deliver power in the West. Co-ops<br />

operate at cost, and return any excess revenues<br />

to their members,” said Tri-State vice-president,<br />

communications, Lee Boughey.<br />

Tri-State has been embroiled in disputes with<br />

several member co-ops which are seeking to<br />

leave before their contracts expire, because they<br />

want to diversify their sourcing to include more<br />

renewables. In response, Tri-State is looking to<br />

reduce its own reliance on fossils and industry<br />

observers hope the energy crisis will spur more<br />

efforts in the sector to transition to renewables.<br />

In a blog for the Natural Resources Defense<br />

Council, Jeffrey McManus, government affairs<br />

coordinator at the non-profit Center for Policy<br />

Advocacy, says the recent federal Inflation<br />

Reduction Act “will be a game-changer in<br />

accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels<br />

to a clean energy economy that will lower utility<br />

bills for families, support good-paying clean<br />

energy jobs, and tackle the climate crisis”.<br />

He highlights how four Republican-led states –<br />

Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas – are among<br />

those leading the way on wind power, adding that<br />

across the US as a whole, rural electric co-ops<br />

“have more than tripled their renewable capacity<br />

between 2010 to 2021”. This is partly driven by the<br />

fact that renewables are cheaper – but McManus<br />

notes that some co-ops, including Tri-State, are<br />

locked into coal contracts and are paying more<br />

for fossils than they would for renewables.<br />

The energy crisis is also helping to spur a new<br />

generation of energy co-ops in the US – this time<br />

in the cities, in the form of community solar.<br />

Among those leading the way is Solar United<br />

Neighbours, which works with communities<br />

across the US to develop neighbourhood groups<br />

of 50-100 people which can install solar panels.<br />

It lists groups in a dozen states, with more than<br />

7,500 homes investing a total of $162m (£144m).<br />



7 MILLION<br />


WILL BE<br />



BILLS”<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 31

Retrofit<br />

revolution<br />

By Rebecca Harvey<br />

Our homes use 35% of the UK’s energy and<br />

produce 20% of its CO2 emissions. At the same<br />

time, the UK faces its worst energy bill crisis in<br />

at least 50 years – after rising living costs have<br />

already squeezed people still reeling from the<br />

2008 crash and austerity that followed.<br />

The price cap freeze and £550 in support<br />

to households recently announced by the UK<br />

government have largely been welcomed, but<br />

it’s a temporary measure; prices are projected to<br />

remain high for several years.<br />

In this context – and taking the climate<br />

crisis into consideration – retrofitting looks<br />

very appealing. When it comes to housing,<br />

retrofitting adapts existing buildings so that<br />

energy consumption and emissions are reduced,<br />

resulting in a more comfortable and healthier<br />

home with lower fuel bills. In the UK, Energy<br />

Performance Certificates (EPCs) indicate the<br />

energy efficiency of buildings, based on data<br />

about its construction materials, heating systems<br />

and insulation. Domestic EPCs are banded from<br />

A to G, where A is the most energy-efficient; the<br />

average energy efficiency rating for a dwelling in<br />

England and Wales is band D.<br />

Upgrade methods include improved<br />

insulation, airtightness and ventilation, as<br />

well as using appropriate heating and cooling<br />

systems, renewable technologies and energyefficient<br />

materials.<br />

In September, two reports asked why the<br />

government hasn’t been more supportive<br />

of retrofit.<br />

In Tackling the UK’s energy efficiency problem<br />

– What the Truss government should learn<br />

from other countries, from the Institute for<br />

Government, Rosa Hodgkin and Tom Sasse<br />

highlight how retrofit can make a real difference<br />

to the UK energy crisis – but they note that it was<br />

entirely absent from the prime minister’s plan.<br />

“The UK’s homes and buildings are among<br />

the least efficient in Europe, which is making<br />

the crisis especially painful for households<br />

and businesses,” they write. “Remarkably, the<br />

Johnson government and now, seemingly, the<br />

Truss government have ignored this so far. The<br />

case for action is even stronger now that the<br />

government will be taking such large energy<br />

costs directly on to its balance sheet.”<br />

This sentiment is echoed by Community<br />

Energy England (CEE). “Government plans have<br />

done nothing at all to correct the appalling<br />

record of the Conservative government over<br />

many years to address a key root cause of this<br />

energy crisis by retrofitting our building stock –<br />

Europe’s leakiest,” said a CEE spokesperson.<br />

“Major investment in retrofit is something<br />

that would genuinely improve domestic energy<br />

security as well as domestic health, happiness<br />

and economics. It would create employment,<br />

and reduce carbon emissions. It would protect<br />

property values, save huge health and welfare<br />

costs as well as being electorally popular. A nobrainer,<br />

you would think.”<br />

In a second report, Train local, work local,<br />

stay local: Retrofit, growth, and levelling up, the<br />

Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) urges<br />

the government to look seriously at increasing<br />

the pace of retrofit – and to help communities<br />

in the process by training and employing a local<br />

cohort of specialists.<br />

“In a crisis like this, the government should be<br />

pulling every possible policy lever available to it,<br />

to reduce energy consumption, move away from<br />

32 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

gas permanently and ensure the government<br />

is not subsidising UK energy bills for years<br />

to come,” says Joshua Emden, who wrote the<br />

report. “This will require an enormous increase<br />

in the pace of retrofitting people’s homes with<br />

insulation and upgrading their boilers to heat<br />

pumps to get them off the gas grid and protect<br />

households from future price shocks.”<br />

Retrofitting the UK’s leaky, cold, and damp<br />

homes has “always been about more than just<br />

meeting net zero targets,” he says, but adds<br />

that “in the current dire economic context, it<br />

is now a critical lever in securing economic<br />

security. In addition to cutting household energy<br />

bills, the government could make retrofitting<br />

the cornerstone of its levelling up strategy by<br />

creating jobs that can be trained for and filled<br />

locally and have a substantial impact on local<br />

economies across England.”<br />

Emden states that retrofitting homes with<br />

good insulation and a heat pump as part of a<br />

whole-house approach could save households<br />

up to £430 a year on energy bills when the price<br />

cap freeze comes into force. At the same time,<br />

a retrofitting programme of £7bn per year in<br />

England could sustain over 400,000 direct jobs<br />

and 500,000 indirect jobs by 2030 and over 1.2<br />

million direct jobs and 1.5 indirect jobs by 2050.<br />

A similar move is being explored at local<br />

level by Barton Community Retrofit Cooperative<br />

(BCRC), a programme developed by Owned By<br />

Oxford, a collaboration between the city council<br />

and community groups. BCRC aims to provide<br />

retrofit services while training and upskilling<br />

local people.<br />

“We’re at a very early stage but things are<br />

beginning to take off,” says BCRC. “In the Barton<br />

area of Oxford there is poor housing stock –<br />

especially 1950s prefabs – and concerns about<br />

rising energy prices. We’re starting to recruit local<br />

builders interested in ‘learning through doing’<br />

and have a local retrofit expert to lead the team.<br />

Seed-funding has been secured from Owned by<br />

Oxford and we’re now seeking resources and one<br />

or two properties to test the model.<br />

“Our aim is to start small and build one<br />

community retrofit team, then expand and<br />

create new teams, and then replicate the model<br />

in other communities.”<br />

Co-ops are involved in the retrofitting<br />

movement in a number of other ways, from<br />

providing site analysis and renovations, to<br />

advice and guidance, and funding through green<br />

financial products.<br />

In Manchester, People Powered Retrofit was<br />

established as a Community Benefit Society<br />

in 2021, with support from the government,<br />

community energy co-operative Carbon Co-op,<br />

and design and research co-operative Urbed.<br />

It aims to “help more householders to retrofit<br />

their properties,” by offering clear, independent<br />

advice and support households to help them<br />

plan, procure and deliver retrofit projects.<br />

In February, the Confederation of Cooperative<br />

Housing (CCH), the apex body for UK housing<br />

co-ops, launched a Housing Retrofit Support<br />

Programme aiming to help members deal with<br />

ageing and energy-inefficient housing to create<br />

warm, affordable and low carbon homes.<br />

A range of support has been developed by<br />

James Neward, CCH’s in-house retrofit expert,<br />

ranging from housing stock analysis and energy<br />

assessments right through to design, planning<br />

support and on-site delivery.<br />

And in Ireland, the government has a target of<br />

upgrading 500,000 homes to B2 Building Energy<br />

Rating (BER) standard, by 2030. In February,<br />

the department of environment, climate and<br />

communications announced a raft of measures<br />

to achieve this, which will be administered by<br />

the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland<br />

(SEAI). At the Swoboda Credit Union Conference<br />

in May, SEAI’s Josephine Maguire described<br />

how the organisation works with homeowners,<br />

businesses, communities and the government to<br />

transform how people think about, generate and<br />

use energy – and highlighted how credit unions<br />

are vital to this work.<br />

“[Credit unions] are in every community and<br />

every locality,” she said. “They are central to<br />

communities and can be involved in demand<br />

generation campaigns, look at supply chains<br />

and help to bring low-cost financing into the<br />

market for home retrofit.”<br />

p Carbon Co-op<br />

workers retrofit a<br />

property<br />









OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 33

The cost of borrowing<br />

Credit unions as an<br />

alternative to unethical<br />

sources of finance<br />

p A Leeds Credit<br />

Union branch at<br />

Kirkgate Market<br />

(Image: Leeds Credit<br />

Union)<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

Credit unions around the world are doing<br />

their bit to help with the cost of living crisis by<br />

providing low-cost loans.<br />

A March <strong>2022</strong> report by the Centre for Social<br />

Justice, an independent UK think-tank, identified<br />

credit unions as a key player in the affordable<br />

finance ecosystem which could help vulnerable<br />

people. It found that 62% of those who became<br />

victims of loan sharks had an income of below<br />

£20,000 a year, with about half of this number<br />

on less than £15,000. It also revealed that 66%<br />

also had debts owing to legal creditors and 75%<br />

were on benefits.<br />

In June, Bank of England figures showed that<br />

credit card borrowing had risen by £740m month<br />

on month,13% higher than the year before and<br />

the biggest year-on-year rise since <strong>October</strong> 2005.<br />

And research by SmartMoney found that two<br />

in five UK adults will take out a new form of<br />

credit in the next year, and they predict they will<br />

need an average of £5,250 each.<br />

The Co-op Credit Union in Manchester has<br />

raised concerns about the mental and physical<br />

health impact of the crisis. A recent survey of<br />

its members found two-thirds of respondents<br />

were either “very” or “extremely” worried about<br />

the cost of living; 14% had skipped meals,<br />

and another 14% had used all their savings.<br />

Around 8.5% reported difficulty with debts.<br />

These challenges have left their mark, with 57%<br />

reporting a deterioration in their mental health.<br />

In light of these challenges, 54% of<br />

respondents acknowledged the value of their<br />

credit union membership, saying that its services<br />

have helped them through the crisis so far.<br />

Matt Bland, chief executive at the Co-op<br />

Credit Union, said: “These survey results paint<br />

a sobering picture of the real-life health impact<br />

that the cost-of-living crisis is having on our<br />

members, the majority of whom are earning low<br />

incomes in part-time retail work.<br />

“The recent announcement from government<br />

on freezing energy unit prices is of course a very<br />

welcome intervention. But our survey reflects<br />

the impact that the increases we’ve already seen<br />

are having on our members' lives and those of<br />

their families. This suggests that more targeted<br />

support is needed for the poorest.<br />

“It is very encouraging for us to see the<br />

positive impact our services have for people<br />

struggling to cope with a once-in-a-generation<br />

crisis. We are doing everything we can to support<br />

members through our core savings and loan<br />

services as well as providing tools and support to<br />

help people budget and maximise their income<br />

through benefits and tax credits.<br />

“We call on government and its agencies to<br />

do everything it can to support those on low<br />

incomes to find a sustainable way through the<br />

crisis. We also call on government and bodies<br />

like Fair 4 All Finance to consider what they<br />

might do to help credit unions and other social<br />

lenders to expand their services to support lowincome<br />

households. In many ways, the current<br />

crisis is more damaging than Covid-19 was for<br />

low-income households and we need a response<br />

on an equivalent scale.”<br />

Similar concerns were expressed by Leeds<br />

Credit Union, which warns locals not to turn<br />

to unethical lenders. “We are acutely aware<br />

of the challenges facing many members of<br />

society during these tough times,” it said. “As<br />

a long-established credit union, we are used to<br />

supporting our members throughout challenging<br />

periods and proudly continue to do so today.<br />

34 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

“If you or someone you know is struggling<br />

financially, we would advise you to talk to your<br />

local credit union as soon as possible. As well<br />

as providing a range of financial products at<br />

reasonable and affordable rates and savings<br />

accounts to help build financial resilience, credit<br />

unions offer holistic help and advisory services<br />

that can help anyone at risk of becoming<br />

financially vulnerable.<br />

“Under no circumstances should you turn to<br />

unscrupulous lenders or loan sharks.”<br />

Debt is also a concern in Ireland, where an<br />

annual school-costs survey from the Irish League<br />

of Credit Unions (ILCU) found that parents<br />

are spending an average of €1,195 (£1,045) per<br />

primary school child, €9 (£7.87) more than the<br />

previous year. Around 89% of parents said the<br />

rising cost of living had impacted their income<br />

or household costs.<br />

And 61% said the increasing cost of food for<br />

school lunches was having the biggest impact<br />

on their budget. Around 9% of respondents said<br />

they would consider a payday loan company,<br />

with one in 10 (8%) of parents knowingly<br />

considering an illegal moneylender. A quarter of<br />

all respondents in this group didn’t know if their<br />

potential moneylender was legal or not.<br />

ILCU head of communications, Paul Bailey,<br />

said: “The rising costs of living will heavily<br />

impact households across Northern Ireland this<br />

winter. This is evident by the sharp increase in<br />

parents cancelling extracurricular activities and<br />

sacrificing the family holiday to meet the costs of<br />

back to school. What is particularly concerning is<br />

the increase in the number of parents reporting<br />

that they will go into debt to send their children<br />

to school.<br />

“I would urge parents who feel they have no<br />

alternative to a moneylender to talk to their local<br />

credit union about accessing more affordable<br />

and ethical forms of finance.”<br />

In the USA, new legislation is being considered<br />

to protect consumers from debt. Congresswoman<br />

Carolyn B. Maloney has introduced the Overdraft<br />

Protection Act, which would limit the number<br />

of overdraft fees banks can charge to one per<br />

month and six per year.<br />

But the Credit Union National Association<br />

(Cuna) is critical, warning a curb on fees would<br />

limit credit unions’ ability to help members.<br />

Cuna president/CEO Jim Nussle wrote in a<br />

letter to the committee: “The best and least<br />

disruptive path forward would be to continue<br />

permitting transactions to be processed and<br />

encouraging affected consumers to reach out to<br />

and work with their local credit union to reduce<br />

or eliminate any fees or to consider other lowcost<br />

products and services. Relying on credit<br />

unions to do what they do best is preferable to<br />

an environment where consumers are getting<br />

declined in line at the grocery store or pharmacy<br />

or experience their rent check unpaid.”<br />

The National Federation of Federally Insured<br />

Credit Unions (Nafcu) also opposes the bill,<br />

arguing that “any legislative efforts that<br />

eliminate overdraft protection programmes are<br />

likely to have a significant negative impact on<br />

borrowers who value these programmes.”<br />

Back in the UK, some credit unions are<br />

partnering with charities or providing training on<br />

how to manage budgets. Bradford District Credit<br />

Union (BDCU) recently backed the FoodSavers<br />

campaign run by Inn Churches, a councilfunded<br />

project which has 10 outlets around the<br />

city offering low-cost food with members able to<br />

save into their BDCU accounts. Members have so<br />

far saved over £4,000.<br />

A financial wellbeing project funded by<br />

Somerset Council has also involved credit unions<br />

in the county and works to give people the tools<br />

to understand and manage their finances better.<br />

Through the scheme, charities, organisations<br />

and credit unions offer free expert and<br />

confidential help, with free information, events,<br />

and training to local residents and employees of<br />

Somerset businesses who face financial anxiety.<br />

The initiative is backed by Westcountry<br />

Savings & Loans, Great Western Credit Union,<br />

Somerset Community Credit Union, and Mendip<br />

Community Credit Union.<br />

Similarly, Wave Community Bank in Hove, UK,<br />

runs webinars to provide free tips to members on<br />

how to manage monthly budgets, control their<br />

debt and check what benefits are available.<br />

But credit unions also worry about the impact<br />

of the crisis on their sustainability.<br />

Robert Kelly, CEO of the Association of British<br />

Credit Unions (Abcul) said: “Abcul is acutely<br />

aware of the potential seismic negative impact<br />

that the cost-of-living crisis may have on our<br />

member credit unions and the individual<br />

members they serve across.<br />

“We are devising a strategic lobbying plan that<br />

will include discussions and negotiations with<br />

a range of stakeholder groups and direct input<br />

from member credit unions on how best to shape<br />

our messaging and support services.<br />

“As always, Abcul stands ready to support<br />

our member credit unions in building<br />

and maintaining financial resilience. Our<br />

sustainability will be a critical factor in our<br />

future success but there is no doubt that the<br />

months ahead will create significant challenges<br />

to the credit union sector as a whole.”<br />







THAT THE<br />


CRISIS<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 35

Credit unions<br />

provide a lifeline<br />

in the cost of living crisis<br />

q The Co-op Bank<br />

has seen a wave of<br />

branch closures<br />

Facing page: Abcul<br />

CEO Robert Kelly<br />

By Paul Gosling<br />

Credit union membership and lending have<br />

increased significantly in response to the cost<br />

of living of crisis. This growth in lending is<br />

despite a rationalisation process that has seen<br />

the closure of weaker unions, leading to a fall in<br />

their total number.<br />

According to Bank of England statistics<br />

published in August, the number of adult<br />

members of UK credit unions has risen to an<br />

all-time high of 1.93 million. But the starkest<br />

increase was in loans to borrowers, which<br />

jumped by 18.9% to £785m last year, in<br />

England alone.<br />

But net liabilities in arrears in England<br />

also increased, to £65.5m – a rise of 9.5% in a<br />

year. Across the UK, the arrears figures were<br />

better, falling slightly. Other positive indicators<br />

included a big increase in government support<br />

for credit unions in Scotland, while credit union<br />

assets rose by 7% in Northern Ireland and by<br />

9.5% in Wales.<br />

These figures were welcomed by Abcul,<br />

the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd.<br />

“Credit unions are building financial resilience<br />

in households and communities all across the<br />

country and helping consumers manage their<br />

finances in a hugely positive way,” says its<br />

CEO, Robert Kelly. He adds: “Credit unions will<br />

continue to serve communities and employers<br />

in these testing times through the provision of<br />

ethical and responsible products and services<br />

– our mantra of people helping people will<br />

continue to be the bedrock of everything we do.”<br />

The Irish League of Credit Unions, which<br />

has 85 member unions in Northern Ireland,<br />

says it is too early to observe the impact of the<br />

financial crisis in the most recent statistics from<br />

June this year. “Those figures do not show any<br />

significant increases in membership,” says a<br />

spokeswoman, “however, it’s worth noting that<br />

membership in Northern Ireland is much higher<br />

than the rest of the UK, with more than a third of<br />

adults (536,000) holding an account with their<br />

local credit union.”<br />

The League’s affiliated unions in Northern<br />

Ireland hold assets of over £1.83bn, of which over<br />

£582m is out on loan. The member unions “are<br />

extremely well positioned to deal with increased<br />

demand for loans as a result of the cost of living<br />

crisis,” says the ILCU spokeswoman.<br />

She adds that member unions provide a range<br />

of financial and practical support to members.<br />

“Credit unions will continue to do what they<br />

always have, which is to prioritise the needs of<br />

their members. At this time, with a recession<br />

forecast, and households facing soaring costs<br />

for utilities, groceries and fuel, credit unions<br />

will do everything they can to support members<br />

struggling. Whether that is through providing<br />

access to affordable credit, or working with<br />

individual borrowers struggling to manage their<br />

repayments.<br />

“What we are seeing currently is a smaller<br />

growth in savings, which is likely to be a<br />

combination of members using their savings, or<br />

indeed having less to save.<br />

“Demand for loans has also risen, with an<br />

annual growth of 7.7% (June 21 – June 22).<br />

Anecdotally, we understand there to be a shift<br />

36 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>



TO DO WHAT<br />





OF THEIR<br />

MEMBERS”<br />

in demand, particularly noted by credit unions<br />

in areas of higher deprivation. There is a rise<br />

in loan applications for smaller amounts, and<br />

taken to cover necessities such as household<br />

items, back-to-school costs, or bills.”<br />

Those financial pressures have caused credit<br />

unions to extend their support in more practical<br />

ways, too. For example, some credit unions –<br />

such as Glasgow’s Carntyne and Riddrie Credit<br />

Union – have set up food banks. Many refer<br />

members in difficulty to external specialist<br />

money advisors, while others encourage<br />

budgeting as part of improved personal financial<br />

management.<br />

In addition to financial hardship, increased<br />

demand for credit union services has been<br />

driven by the closure programmes of both banks<br />

and Post Office branches, especially in rural<br />

areas. Analysis by Retail Banker International<br />

found that the major banks, plus Nationwide<br />

Building Society, had closed 4,644 branches in<br />

the period 2007 to early 2021. (The bank with<br />

the highest percentage of branch closures was<br />

the Co-operative Bank, which closed over 85%<br />

of its branches – cutting the network from 355<br />

branches to just 50.)<br />

While the intention, and public relations<br />

narrative, behind many banks’ branch closure<br />

programmes was the transfer of transactions<br />

from bank to Post Office branches, the reality<br />

has often been different. A report from Citizens<br />

Advice earlier this year found widespread<br />

short and medium-term closures of Post<br />

Office branches. Over 80% of those which are<br />

‘temporarily closed’ in practice do not reopen<br />

within a year.<br />

Credit unions have, in some instances,<br />

become the only financial institution in the<br />

village, or even town. And expansion in credit<br />

union business has also resulted from changes<br />

in the lending markets, which have reduced the<br />

options for many borrowers. Stronger regulation<br />

and large losses have combined to eat savagely<br />

into the payday lending sector.<br />

More than 50 of the high-cost, short-term,<br />

payday lenders, including market leader Wonga,<br />

have ceased trading in recent years. This created<br />

a void that credit unions have helped to fill.<br />

Despite this, the right-wing think tank the Centre<br />

for Social Justice (CSJ) warns that there remain<br />

more than 3 million people reliant on high-cost<br />

credit in the UK, with around 23 million adults<br />

not believing they will be able to save anything<br />

in the next few years.<br />

In its report Swimming with Sharks, published<br />

in March this year, the CSJ argued that credit<br />

unions should meet the needs of many of this<br />

cohort that are in serious difficulties. It made a<br />

series of proposals designed to increase the role<br />

and capacity of credit unions to support people<br />

currently dependent on illegal loan sharks.<br />

It concluded that more than a million people<br />

are victims of informal, high-interest, lending,<br />

which is typically associated with criminal<br />

gangs. The report calls for deregulation of credit<br />

unions to enable them to increase their lending.<br />

A combination of factors is placing credit<br />

unions nearer to the heart of the low-cost loans<br />

market. But it is obvious that many of those<br />

who are now borrowing will have difficulty in<br />

repaying. That may be a tough challenge for<br />

borrowers and lenders.<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 37

The<br />

Bevy<br />

The community<br />

pub finding ways<br />

to mix it up in<br />

response to the<br />

cost of living<br />

crisis<br />

By Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

As we head into winter amid a cost of living<br />

crisis, many of us will be thinking of ways to<br />

tighten our belts and cut spending, perhaps by<br />

staying in more and foregoing trips to the pub.<br />

Businesses across the hospitality industry are<br />

experiencing similar challenges, as they face<br />

soaring costs and feel the pinch of consumers’<br />

shrinking budgets.<br />

One such business is co-operative pub the<br />

Bevy, in Brighton. The pub’s chair, Warren<br />

Carter, explains some of the difficulties it<br />

has been facing due to increased costs and<br />

lower footfall.<br />

“We’re always looking at cutting costs,” he<br />

says. “But our biggest cost is wages and we’re<br />

a Brighton Living Wage employer, so people get<br />

over 10 quid an hour to work with us. Instead,<br />

we’ve had to cut down on hours. On Saturdays,<br />

we don’t open until 3pm now unless there’s an<br />

Albion game, just because it was so quiet.<br />

“We’re talking about just closing totally on a<br />

Monday now, having no groups or anything. Just<br />

try not to open the door, try not to put on lights.”<br />

The Bevy recently released an online statement<br />

addressing the cost of living crisis, but the focus<br />

was less on the problems it faces as a business,<br />

and more on what it is offering its community,<br />

from lunch clubs and school uniform repair<br />

to free kids’ activities. Despite the immense<br />

challenges the Bevy is facing, it does have one<br />

ace up its sleeve that it is leveraging for the good<br />

of its business and its customers: its status as a<br />

community-owned pub.<br />

“It’s very worrying, but on the flip side, I<br />

think we’re lucky because we are communitybased,”<br />

says Carter. It was bought by local<br />

residents in 2014 after four years of closure, and<br />

ever since has acted as a hub for the benefit of<br />

the community. “Basically we’re a community<br />

centre where you can have beers.”<br />

During the summer holidays, the Bevy hosted<br />

a series of free kids’ events with activities and<br />

free food and drink for the children. Carter<br />

describes that kind of work as “part of our DNA”,<br />

which provides a win-win for the Bevy and its<br />

customers. The pub is able to access funding to<br />

run community events, which benefits locals, as<br />

well as increasing footfall in the pub.<br />

“We know we need to offer this so people can<br />

afford to come to the pub,” says Carter. “We’ll get<br />

grants to do free holiday stuff and free kids’ parties<br />

and things.<br />

“Rather than a day out being £40 or £50 with<br />

a load of children, you could either come and<br />

spend nothing, or you can go, ‘You know what, I<br />

can actually afford to have a couple of beers. My<br />

children are having a nice time.’”<br />

As well as events, the Bevy has been looking<br />

at creative ways they can make it easier for cashstrapped<br />

punters to enjoy a drink with them,<br />

including changing its beer supplier to enable<br />

them to offer a £4 pint.<br />

The Bevy also embraces partnership work<br />

with other aligned organisations, such as East<br />

Brighton Food Co-op, which delivers meals<br />

to vulnerable people in the area, and who are<br />

moving into the Bevy’s kitchen to work together.<br />

38 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

Carter explains that this kind of co-operation<br />

has been part of the way the Bevy has worked<br />

from the start, and has been a way it naturally<br />

responds to crises – with the pandemic being the<br />

last example.<br />

“Covid was just another thing that we could<br />

rally around. We went to a meeting that was<br />

called three days before lockdown. There were<br />

20 organisations there from local churches,<br />

food banks, community gardens, the local<br />

secondary school and the local primary school.<br />

All of us got together and went, ‘How are we<br />

going to tackle this?’<br />

“I think that’s the key, the Bevy doesn’t stand<br />

alone. We work with everyone to support people.<br />

“The East Brighton Food Co-op was a total<br />

example of that. We thought: ‘We’ve both got<br />

the same ethos. We can’t make our kitchen work,<br />

you’re delivering 900 meals and need a kitchen<br />

space – you move in with us and we’ll partner.’”<br />

When it comes to the Bevy’s customers,<br />

Warren explains that not all of them have been<br />

affected by rising costs in the same way, but the<br />

Bevy’s aim is to be a place where everyone can<br />

come and join in.<br />

“A lot of our regulars are builders and stuff<br />

like that, and they’ve not really been clobbered.<br />

It’s the people who only come occasionally, who<br />

can’t usually afford to go out that we think, that’s<br />

not fair.”<br />

The Bevy sits on a housing estate in<br />

Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, a neighbourhood<br />

with high levels of economic deprivation. Carter<br />

points out that, with many children at the<br />

local school receiving free school meals, family<br />

visits to the local pub can easily become an<br />

unaffordable luxury.<br />

“We’re always thinking of ways to not just<br />

make money but to make sure that people can<br />

enjoy life, you know that crazy thing – where<br />

you’re not just working, coming home, paying<br />

bills, then going back to work. We’re the sixthrichest<br />

nation in the world – that’s not how<br />

people should be living. And unfortunately,<br />

we’re ruled by people who have no idea what it’s<br />

like to be skint.”<br />

Though it tends to stay out of party politics,<br />

the Bevy’s co-op model is, by its nature,<br />

political, says Carter. “We’ve always tried to stay<br />

apolitical. And, to me, that just seems right, you<br />

know, but also I think we are political by being<br />

a co-operative pub. No one was going to help,<br />

no one was going to reopen that boozer. It was<br />

closed for reasons and different people looked<br />

at it and thought, ‘We can’t make money out of<br />

this’. So to me, getting off your ass and making a<br />

difference in your community is political.”<br />

Beyond the immediate crisis that the Bevy<br />

and its community are facing, the bigger issue,<br />

Carter points out, is that it is still the only<br />

co-operative pub on a housing estate.<br />

“Most community pubs are in posh villages<br />

and stuff like that. There’s nothing wrong with<br />

that, but there have been millions pumped<br />

into that and actually, it’s so hard in workingclass<br />

areas to get things like this off the ground<br />

because of the lack of capital to start them and<br />

then to keep them running.”<br />

As a pub that was born out of adversity, the<br />

rising cost of living is seen by the Bevy as “just<br />

another thing for us to deal with”.<br />

“We’ve always struggled as a pub to make<br />

ends meet, which is sort of why our ethos from<br />

the beginning was to be more than a pub, to be<br />

like a community centre pub,” says Carter. “So it<br />

will be a struggle for us. But it’s always a struggle<br />

for us.”<br />

As a pub that<br />

was born out<br />

of adversity,<br />

the rising cost<br />

of living is<br />

seen by The<br />

Bevy as “just<br />

another thing<br />

for us to deal<br />

with”<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 39

Co-ops and<br />

the cost of<br />

living crisis<br />

The United<br />

Nations<br />

Development<br />

Programme<br />

estimates that<br />

an additional<br />

71 million people<br />

could be pushed<br />

into poverty due<br />

to the cost of<br />

living crisis<br />

By Anca Voinea<br />

The United Nations Development Programme<br />

(UNDP) estimates that an additional 71 million<br />

people around the world face being pushed into<br />

poverty. The worst affected countries include<br />

Armenia and Uzbekistan in Central Asia; Burkina<br />

Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan in sub-<br />

Saharan Africa; Haiti in Latin America; and<br />

Pakistan and Sri Lanka in South Asia.<br />

And a May Ipsos poll for the World Economic<br />

Forum found one in four people struggling<br />

financially in 11 developed countries.<br />

Co-ops are stepping up to help cushion the<br />

blow – and they have a number of tools at their<br />

disposal, from staff bonuses to price controls.<br />

In Italy, where inflation has hit 8.4%,<br />

consumer co-op Nova is allocating a €200<br />

(£174) bonus for 5,000 employees. NovaAeg, a<br />

company active in the electricity and gas sector<br />

that is owned by Nova Coop, has extended this<br />

bonus to its employees.<br />

Meanwhile, Norwegian retailer Coop is<br />

introducing a price ceiling on 200 everyday<br />

products for the rest of the year, keeping them at<br />

the current level or lower.<br />

“In a time of strong inflation, consumerowned<br />

Coop has a responsibility to help<br />

maintain Norwegians’ purchasing power,” said<br />

Håvard Jensen, director of the iCoop Norway<br />

chain. “When our suppliers increased our<br />

purchase prices sharply with effect from 1 July,<br />

we withheld parts of the price increase from the<br />

consumer. We are now further contributing to<br />

contain inflation by introducing price caps.”<br />

The measure also applies to discount chains<br />

Extra and Obs!, the supermarket chain Coop<br />

Mega and the convenience stores Coop Prix,<br />

Coop Marked and Matkroken.<br />

“We have used our unique customer insight<br />

to select 200 popular everyday products within,<br />

among other things, fruit and vegetables, fresh<br />

produce, dinner and cold cuts,” added Jensen.<br />

“The list includes both Coop’s own brands and<br />

brands from our suppliers.”<br />

A similar initiative was undertaken by retail<br />

co-op NTUC Fairprice in Singapore, which<br />

provided a special discount on Pasar Fresh Eggs<br />

(30s) in April. Between 25 May and 1 June the<br />

40 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

group also offered a special discount of 10% for<br />

four popular cooking oil products for a week. The<br />

retailer recently announced a wage structure to<br />

help increase the salaries of workers (see Global<br />

News, p18).<br />

In the UK, where inflation has climbed to its<br />

highest rate in 40 years, one in seven adults says<br />

they cannot afford to eat every day – an increase<br />

of 57% since January.<br />

Retailers John Lewis and Waitrose, which<br />

belong to employee-owned John Lewis<br />

Partnership, are offering free food to all Partners<br />

and temporary workers from 3 <strong>October</strong> to 6<br />

January to help with the cost of living. The two<br />

businesses will offer staff members working a<br />

four-hour shift one free meal – breakfast, lunch<br />

or dinner – depending on the time of day.<br />

Those working an eight-hour shift can<br />

choose two meals. The meals offered will vary<br />

depending on the type of activity performed and<br />

the workplace. Those working in larger stores,<br />

head offices and distribution centres will have<br />

their meals in canteens. Long-distance lorry<br />

drivers would pre-order packed lunches and<br />

staff in smaller convenience stores would receive<br />

sandwiches or salads.<br />

Some co-ops and mutuals are making direct<br />

payments to help their workers. Nationwide<br />

Building Society is giving more than 11,000 staff<br />

who earn £35,000 or less per year a £1,200 oneoff<br />

payment. It also introduced a 4.5% pay rise<br />

for all staff earlier this year and raised the base<br />

salaries of 4,000 of its lowest paid workers by<br />

around 5% at the end of March.<br />

In addition to providing financial support,<br />

Nationwide will offer cost-of-living training to<br />

all frontline staff.<br />

CEO Debbie Crosbie said: “The months<br />

ahead will be worrying for many people and<br />

we’re always considering new ways to help our<br />

members. But rising prices affect our colleagues<br />

too and that’s why we’re providing this<br />

additional support.”<br />

Other co-ops are making a difference by<br />

supporting vulnerable communities. Co-op<br />

Holidays, which is part of the Midcounties’ Co-op<br />

Travel Group, is working with charity Go Beyond<br />

to enable vulnerable children from across the<br />

UK have a getaway break. Over the past year the<br />

initiative benefited more than 760 children aged<br />

8-15, who are facing serious challenges in their<br />

everyday lives, such as bereavement, abuse,<br />

bullying, poverty or being a carer for loved ones.<br />

The breaks include a mix of residential stays<br />

and day visits where children can have new<br />

experiences, learn skills or make new<br />

friends free of charge.<br />

Co-op Holidays is also donating £1 per<br />

passenger to the charity for every holiday<br />

package booked. Over the past year, the travel<br />

group has made a £50,000 donation to help<br />

offset any impact of the coronavirus pandemic<br />

from holiday booking donations.<br />

Co-op Holidays has pledged to donate a further<br />

£50,000 to the charity to mark their second year<br />

of the partnership.<br />

Sara Dunham, chief officer of Travel and<br />

Leisure at Midcounties, said: “We’re thrilled to<br />

be partnering with Go Beyond for a second year.<br />

As a travel business, we recognise how important<br />

a break can be for your mental health, so it’s<br />

great to be able to provide these getaways for<br />

young people who face challenging situations<br />

every day.<br />

“Not only that, but as part of a co-operative,<br />

supporting our local communities is at the<br />

heart of everything we do. We’re so proud to be<br />

able to support Go Beyond thanks to the help<br />

of our holidaymakers and it’s great to see firsthand<br />

how we’re helping young people create<br />

‘forever moments’, grow in confidence and make<br />

new friends.”<br />

Such measures help, but the world is in this for<br />

the long haul. Economists warn that the cost of<br />

living crisis is likely to last until the second half<br />

of 2023. NielsenIQ estimates that UK consumers<br />

will add an additional £500 to their overall food<br />

spend this year while those in the US will add an<br />

additional $481 to their total grocery food bill.<br />

According to NielsenIQ’s research, external<br />

pressures on consumers’ day-to-day spending<br />

differ around the world.<br />

In some markets, inflation affects multiple<br />

categories while in others price increases are<br />

isolated to just a few categories.<br />

While these trends continue, co-operatives<br />

will have an increasingly important role to<br />

play in meeting their members’ needs<br />

and helping communities cope with<br />

the cost of living crisis.<br />

Norwegian<br />

retailer Coop<br />

is introducing<br />

a price<br />

ceiling on<br />

200 everyday<br />

products for<br />

the rest of the<br />

year<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 41

Food co-ops and the<br />

cost of living crisis<br />

By Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

The cost of living crisis is putting pressure on<br />

the UK’s co-operative grocers – so much so that<br />

some have already had to shut their doors.<br />

Wild Thyme Wholefoods, a workers’ co-op<br />

in Portsmouth, announced on 7 September<br />

“the sad truth” that it could no longer carry on<br />

trading. “Increased rent, rising rates and higher<br />

energy prices coupled with lower sales mean<br />

we cannot cover our basic costs any more,” a<br />

statement on Facebook read.<br />

Rice Up Wholefoods in Southampton put out<br />

a similar statement in August, saying that rent<br />

demands and energy bills, “along with all the<br />

other challenges we have faced in the last few<br />

years as an independent has culminated in us<br />

having to reach the terribly difficult and sad<br />

decision to close for good.”<br />

Those still in business face a perfect storm<br />

of soaring running costs, increased wholesale<br />

prices and smaller takings.<br />

The 8th Day worker co-op, a health food shop<br />

and cafe in Manchester, celebrated its 52nd<br />

birthday this month. It opened in a decade facing<br />

similar challenges to the present day – such as<br />

fuel shortages, inflation and mass industrial<br />

action. More recently, 8th Day has weathered<br />

upheavals such as the 2008 financial crash,<br />

Brexit and the Covid pandemic.<br />

Worker member Jeniya Marsh says that while<br />

the co-op has always experienced “dips and<br />

troughs”, the current crisis feels somehow<br />

different. “I’ve kind of got the feeling that this<br />

might be a bit longer lasting.…It’s so many<br />

different things at the same time.”<br />

Energy costs for businesses like 8th Day have<br />

doubled. The prospect of further increases has<br />

prompted the government to place a cap on<br />

household energy bills for the next two years,<br />

and businesses’ bills for the next six months, as<br />

part of its Energy Bill Relief Scheme. But with<br />

millions of households still being left in fuel<br />

poverty, coupled with the 11.4% increase in food<br />

prices in the past year, customers will be making<br />

some very difficult spending decisions.<br />

Reduced footfall as customers face the<br />

squeeze is a particular concern for stores like<br />

8th Day, which can be seen as non-essential<br />

spending by some customers. While 8th Day has<br />

its regulars, other customers are better described<br />

as “fair-weather” buyers.<br />

“When they’ve got disposable income, they’ll<br />

come and spend it with us,” says Marsh, “but<br />

if they’re short of cash, then of course they’re<br />

going to just go and do their shopping at the<br />

cheapest supermarket they can find.”<br />

Recent research from Kantar has found a drop<br />

in “eco-active” customers – the kind of shoppers<br />

likely to be found in a store like 8th Day, seeking<br />

42 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

sustainable and organic products. In the UK,<br />

eco-active shoppers have reduced by 3% in the<br />

past year. To make matters worse, suppliers have<br />

been forced to put up prices, as raw ingredients<br />

and transport become more expensive.<br />

“The cost of bringing products into the UK has<br />

also gone up,” says Ms Marsh. “Obviously, that’s<br />

not just to do with inflation here. That’s to do<br />

with Brexit and increases that have been passed<br />

on to wholesalers and importers. Especially<br />

when you’re bringing in goods from the EU now.”<br />

Co-operative wholesaler Essential Trading, in<br />

Bristol, supplies a number of shops and cafés<br />

in the city and across the UK. Essential’s Lee<br />

Nottle explains that while the current situation<br />

is challenging, Essential’s experience during the<br />

2008 crash has left it in a more resilient position.<br />

“Since then, there’s been a lot of effort made<br />

to make sure that we have some sort of financial<br />

safeguarding in place,” he says, “so that if<br />

something similar were to happen, we wouldn’t<br />

be impacted in the same way. So we’re in a<br />

fortunate position at the moment.”<br />

Essential’s stockists are concerned about the<br />

situation, says Nottle. “The Energy Bill Relief<br />

Scheme is probably going to help a lot of our<br />

customers a lot. For some however I think this<br />

announcement came too late. We’ve seen a few<br />

closures this year as the predictions for the winter<br />

months were looking fairly bleak. However, I do<br />

feel it may help the unease surrounding small<br />

businesses right now.”<br />

The ethical food co-op sector also faces<br />

growing competition from supermarkets, as<br />

well as health chains such as Holland and<br />

Barrett. Marsh says 8th Day is keen to champion<br />

independent health and wholefood businesses.<br />

“We regularly pass customers on to other<br />

independent businesses, who we think suit<br />

their needs better. And we encourage customers<br />

to look for more environmentally friendly<br />

businesses, which are generally smaller.”<br />

In a similar vein, Essential has launched the<br />

Support Our Independents campaign, working<br />

with customers to promote their work, share<br />

their stories and highlight why it is important to<br />

shop with independent businesses.<br />

“We just wanted to share what makes these<br />

businesses really unique and wonderful,” says<br />

Nottle. “We’ve got such a range of customers, all<br />

of which are different.”<br />

The first business to be profiled in the<br />

campaign is Bristol vegan doughnut shop Future<br />

Doughnuts, and more will be profiled in the<br />

coming weeks.<br />

“I think we all just want to help each other,”<br />

says Nottle, “and we want to help our customers<br />

and our local community. I think that’s a large<br />

part of what being a co-op is.”<br />

Both 8th Day and Essential are worker co-ops.<br />

Sometimes this can mean difficult decisions,<br />

such as 8th Day’s agreement to take a voluntary<br />

pay cut at the beginning of the pandemic –<br />

which is still in effect.<br />

“It was a decision we made collectively,<br />

because we wanted to make sure we could keep<br />

as many staff employed as possible,” says Marsh.<br />

“Decision making can be laboriously slow. But<br />

at the same time, because you’ve got a shared<br />

ownership of the business, there’s a shared<br />

will to try and make things work. And so in that<br />

sense, we probably dig a bit deeper than most<br />

other companies. Most other companies, they’ve<br />

probably got one boss, two bosses maximum,<br />

and a whole load of workers who are probably<br />

not paid properly, who are a bit disgruntled ...<br />

Whereas within a co-op… we try to treat each<br />

other really nicely.”<br />

Considering the challenges co-ops now face, a<br />

collective will to survive is needed more than ever.<br />

“We very much see ourselves as custodians of<br />

this business,” says Marsh. “It’s 52 years old and<br />

it’s been built on the back of the hard work of so<br />

many other people. The desire to pass that on in<br />

a good shape means we will dig deep and try and<br />

make things work.”<br />




OF THIS<br />

BUSINESS ...<br />





DIG DEEP<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 43

Join in<br />

with<br />

Join In Live<br />



I KNOW FOR<br />




WHO, AFTER<br />

ALL, ARE THE<br />



By Susan Press<br />

Co-op Group members and customers are being<br />

invited to take part in a national conversation<br />

about policy and priorities as mounting<br />

challenges face the country.<br />

For the first time since 2019, Join In Live is<br />

hitting the road, and meeting with members<br />

and customers in London and Glasgow.<br />

But although lockdown is over, some of its<br />

innovations remain: members still have the<br />

chance to contribute to the discussion via two<br />

online events on Zoom and make themselves<br />

heard as the Group gets to grips with the cost of<br />

living crisis.<br />

Board members, Group leaders and National<br />

Members’ Council (NMC) representatives will<br />

be present at every event to carefully listen to<br />

people’s views on the way ahead in difficult<br />

circumstances.<br />

Democratic projects and services manager,<br />

Simon Plunkett, oversees key events such as<br />

the recent Co-op AGM in May and liaises all year<br />

round with the NMC.<br />

He said: “These are clearly challenging<br />

times and one of the main roles of Council is to<br />

represent members and meet them face to face<br />

so they can give authentic feedback. That’s why<br />

events like Join In Live are very important.”<br />

“As usual, we will be keen to share the<br />

latest news about our half-yearly performance<br />

update, which is published every year in<br />

<strong>October</strong>. However, although we have an agenda<br />

it is all member-led, broad brush and not<br />

too prescriptive.”<br />

The online events are continuing because<br />

“they were so successful during the pandemic”,<br />

says Plunkett, with more than 200 people<br />

taking part.<br />

“It’s also important that people who can’t make<br />

it in person have a real say,” he adds. “Whether<br />

online or face to face, the Council was very keen<br />

that these events had a reporting focus, sharing<br />

updates from members of the leadership team<br />

about our performance and priorities, and there<br />

will also be an opportunity to share ideas about<br />

new community partnerships.”<br />

At live Q&A sessions, members and customers<br />

can put questions to board members on the<br />

Group’s recent performance and plans for<br />

the future, and there will be a round-table<br />

conversation between NMC members and<br />

Member Pioneer co-ordinators to pick up on the<br />

latest developments.<br />

Despite the economic challenges facing<br />

the Group, its customers and members, basic<br />

principles like tackling inequalities and climate<br />

change are still very much high on the agenda.<br />

Plunkett says: “Our 10-point climate plan<br />

will be very, very key to discussions. And our<br />

members are always interested in Fairtrade and<br />

how we can still live sustainably and affordably<br />

44 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

through the cost of living crisis, so we are keen<br />

to get their ideas on how the Co-op can help.”<br />

Join In Live has earned a formidable<br />

reputation as a real flagship event for the Co-op<br />

National Members Council, which works as the<br />

voice of ordinary members, meeting six times a<br />

year with various elected committees.<br />

Lesley Reznicek has been a Council member<br />

for over seven years and is currently one of the<br />

vice-presidents, for member participation and<br />

members’ voice.<br />

“It’s one of the best ways that I know for<br />

directors to hear directly from members who,<br />

after all, are the ones who own the business,”<br />

she says. “This event will enable us as the<br />

NMC to go back and hold the board to account,<br />

while at the same time hearing real concerns<br />

about issues like the cost of living crisis and the<br />

affordability of food.”<br />

She adds: “At sessions like the Q&A we will<br />

be feeding back the views of members who want<br />

a direct line to the board and to hold them to<br />

account for decisions that they feel concerned<br />

about or where they may feel they have got it<br />

wrong or want them to act differently.<br />

“As a member-run business, we are there<br />

to represent their interests and this is a real<br />

opportunity to do that.”<br />

The face-to-face events will be held in Glasgow<br />

at 10.30am on Saturday, 15 <strong>October</strong>, and in<br />

London at 10.30am on Saturday, 22 <strong>October</strong>.<br />

Online events are at 6.30pm on Monday, 17<br />

<strong>October</strong> and noon on Wednesday, 19 <strong>October</strong>. The<br />

latter will include live cooking demonstrations<br />

with easy, pocket-friendly recipes. New food<br />

products will also be available to sample at the<br />

live events.<br />

The Group says fair access to food and working<br />

to eliminate food waste as much as possible are<br />

top priorities, and the Join In Live events will<br />

feature news about the latest developments.<br />

These include a new partnership with Your<br />

Local Pantry, which supports communities<br />

across the country around access to cheap<br />

nutritious food via neighbourhood food clubs<br />

and hubs. The initiative is currently offering<br />

affordable food to more than 80,000 people in<br />

over 70 neighbourhoods across the UK.<br />

Another new initiative announced at the<br />

Group’s AGM is Caboodle, a <strong>digital</strong> platform<br />

that will connect supermarkets, cafés and<br />

restaurants with community groups and<br />

volunteers to redistribute surplus food. It’s still<br />

early days but this is expected to be rolled out by<br />

the Group later in the year.<br />

Kate Allum, who was elected as a Member<br />

Nominated Director just over a year ago, is<br />

particularly looking forward to the Glasgow<br />

event, where she hopes to meet as many<br />

members as possible.<br />

“As a Member Nominated Director living<br />

north of the border,” she says, “I’m keen to<br />

hear about those local issues that are important<br />

to Scottish members and how Co-op can offer<br />

solutions through its products, services and<br />

community offer.”<br />

Join In Live events are all free and open<br />

to everybody. Visit co-operative.coop/events<br />

for more information<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 45

The<br />

architectural<br />

legacy<br />

of Antoni<br />

Gaudi:<br />

His last, La Sagrada Familia;<br />

his first, a co-op<br />






By David J Thompson<br />

Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona,<br />

Spain, is the Catalonian architect’s most<br />

majestic and iconic gift to the world. In the eyes<br />

of his contemporaries, Gaudi was viewed as<br />

God’s architect here on Earth, and in 2010, Pope<br />

Benedict XVI designated it as a basilica for its<br />

religious importance.<br />

La Sagrada Familia (‘The Holy Family’) has<br />

become the most visited site in Spain, with<br />

7 million people a year coming to gaze at its<br />

facade and over 3 million people venturing<br />

inside. If all goes as planned, it will be the last of<br />

Gaudi’s buildings to be completed.<br />

Gaudi began building La Sagrada Familia in<br />

1882. Today, in <strong>2022</strong>, construction has continued<br />

on an almost daily basis for 140 years, yet only<br />

eight of the 18 spires Gaudi designed have been<br />

completed. If fully completed as planned in 2026,<br />

the tallest spire will rise to 560 feet, making it the<br />

tallest religious building in Europe. Following<br />

his respect for the magnitude of nature, Gaudi<br />

ensured that La Sagrada Familia would be<br />

one metre (three feet) shorter than Montjuïc -<br />

Barcelona’s tallest hill.<br />

Antoni Gaudi was born in 1852 in the rural<br />

province of Tarragona, Catalonia, and later<br />

attributed the critical impact of nature on his<br />

work to the years of his childhood spent in the<br />

countryside and on the long organised group<br />

hikes he took as a young man. These experiences<br />

also made him a lifelong champion of Catalonia’s<br />

unique language, culture and heritage. Gaudi<br />

saw nature as God’s teaching hand. “The straight<br />

line belongs to man, the curved to God,” he said.<br />

Moving to Barcelona in 1868, Gaudi studied<br />

utopian socialism and became intrigued with<br />

the communal architecture and way of life of<br />

the “phalanstère” of the French philosopher,<br />

Charles Fourier, where 500-2000 people live<br />

within a utopian building, working together for<br />

mutual benefit. Later, he studied the arts and<br />

crafts work of William Morris and the writings of<br />

John Ruskin.<br />

Gaudi also worked with Eusebi Gűell on<br />

creating a Garden City for Barcelona modelled<br />

after Ebenezer Howard, founder of the garden<br />

city movement. That land later became Park<br />

Gűell and retained the English spelling of<br />

‘Park’ as a tribute to the original plan. He joined<br />

numerous organisations which took pride in<br />

their Catalonian heritage and, filled with new<br />

concepts and ideas to promote Catalonia being<br />

known for its own architectural style, Gaudi<br />

went on to become the leading exponent of<br />

Catalan modernism.<br />

Although Gaudi graduated from the Barcelona<br />

Higher School of Architecture in 1878, he had<br />

already begun using his skills as an architect.<br />

In fact, Gaudi signed drawings for his first<br />

building that same year, a projected community<br />

for a worker’s organisation called La Obrera<br />

Cooperativa Mataronense. Set up in the nearby<br />

port city of Mataro in 1860, the organisation<br />

became a co-operative in 1864.<br />

From about 1877-1883, the co-operative<br />

employed Gaudi to design its complete ideal<br />

workers’ live-work community. Salvador<br />

Pages, the instigator of the co-operative and<br />

later a leader in the co-operative movement in<br />

Catalonia, wanted a co-operative community<br />

that unified the textile workers together in<br />

their 36 on-site homes, communal spaces and<br />

industrial workshops. Gaudi knew the purpose<br />

of these buildings was intended to magnify the<br />

lofty linkages of labour and life.<br />

Of Gaudi’s plans for the co-operative<br />

community, only two houses, the caretaker’s<br />

office, the restrooms, the chimney and the<br />

parabolic arched bleaching warehouse<br />

46 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

(completed in 1883) were built and occupied.<br />

Regrettably, the co-operative closed in the late<br />

1880s with few people at that time understanding<br />

the site’s architectural significance as Gaudi’s<br />

first buildings.<br />

It was not until 1999 that the city of Mataro<br />

took action to preserve what remained of the<br />

much-altered warehouse building, the chimney<br />

and the toilets, but it decided to demolish the<br />

remaining modified co-operative buildings.<br />

Because of the complexity of restoring the arches<br />

of the warehouse building to its former parabolic<br />

glory, it was not re-opened until 2008. In 2010,<br />

the building was given an additional valuable<br />

purpose by becoming the home of the Museum<br />

of Contemporary Art Consortium of Mataro.<br />

In 2013, on the 130th anniversary of the<br />

construction of the warehouse, Gaudi scholars,<br />

architects and Catalonian leaders gathered in<br />

the rebuilt and refurbished warehouse to adopt<br />

the Declaration of Mataro. The declaration<br />

committed the signers to, among other topics,<br />

“ensuring that Antoni Gaudi continues being a<br />

heritage that Catalonia shares with the citizens<br />

of the world”.<br />

However, La Obrera Cooperativa Mataronense<br />

was to play one other critical but sad role in the<br />

personal life of Gaudi. While working on the<br />

building plans for the co-operative, Gaudi fell<br />

in love with Pepeta Moreu, a talented teacher<br />

at the co-op. Pepeta was from a cultured family,<br />

well educated, up-to-date on current issues and<br />

progressive in spirit and action. Pepeta and her<br />

sister hand-embroidered the stylish art nouveau<br />

banner that Gaudi designed for the co-operative.<br />

Gaudi began to visit the Moreu family at their<br />

home close to him in Barcelona every Sunday.<br />

At one point, Gaudi asked Salvador Pages to<br />

inform Pepeta of his desire for courtship and<br />

then marriage. Moreu’s reply to Gaudi was<br />

devastating and life-changing; she could not as<br />

she had another suitor.<br />

By this time, the co-operative’s warehouse<br />

had been completed Gaudi’s work in Mataro<br />

was finished. Gaudi left the Moreu home that<br />

night, and never again returned to Mataro,<br />

never married and remained a celibate, brokenhearted<br />

bachelor for the rest of his life.<br />

Between 1882 and 1915, Gaudi completed many<br />

other architectural works, created especially for<br />

his patrons and friends, including Casa Milà<br />

(La Pedrera, declared a World Heritage Site by<br />

UNESCO in 1984), and Casa Battló. Although<br />

Gaudi earned an international reputation, most<br />

of his major works are found in Barcelona.<br />

From 1915 on, Gaudi gave his heart completely<br />

to God. La Sagrada Familia was Gaudi’s gift<br />

to the earth – but for him, the plans were<br />

commandments from above for Gaudi to turn<br />

into the Glory of God. Everything possible is<br />

being done to complete La Sagrada Familia<br />

by 2026. That date would coincide with the<br />

p Sagrada Familia<br />

Cathedral, Barcelona<br />

(Image: Vladislav<br />

Zolotov/GettyImages<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong> | 47




GOD, BUT HE<br />








q La Obrera<br />

Cooperativa<br />

Mataronense (Image:<br />

ESM/CC BY-SA 4.0)<br />

commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his<br />

death. No doubt, Gaudi will feel his life on Earth<br />

was of use if he sees God is pleased with the<br />

completed La Sagrada Familia.<br />

In 1915, Gaudi said, “My good friends are<br />

dead; I have no family and no clients, no fortune<br />

nor anything. Now I can dedicate myself entirely<br />

to the Church.”<br />

As La Sagrada Familia began to take form,<br />

Gaudi became consumed by the thought of<br />

fulfilling his legacy. Earlier in his life, Gaudi had<br />

been a young, fashionably dressed bon vivant.<br />

As years went by, his growing pious Catholicism<br />

played such an increasingly large role in his<br />

daily life that he became an aesthete, wearing<br />

clothes until they were threadbare. From 1925<br />

on, Gaudi slept nightly in a cot in the crypt below<br />

La Sagrada Familia.<br />

It’s possible that Gaudi’s strong commitment to<br />

Catholicism might have been what accidentally<br />

led to his death at age 73. On 7 June 1926, he left<br />

his studio at La Sagrada Familia to go for his<br />

daily walk to a nearby church for mass. While<br />

crossing the street, he was knocked over by a<br />

tram. Because he was elderly, and resembled<br />

a penniless beggar, he was dragged away from<br />

the tram tracks and left seriously injured on the<br />

pavement without receiving any assistance.<br />

With no identification on him, Gaudi lay<br />

unconscious for hours until some persistent<br />

Samaritans implored a Guardia Civil to<br />

commandeer a taxi to take him to a hospital,<br />

where he received limited care. By the time his<br />

colleagues found him, his serious condition had<br />

deteriorated so badly that additional care was<br />

fruitless and he died. Days later, the citizens of<br />

Barcelona bid farewell to him in the Chapel of<br />

our Lady of Mount Carmel within the crypt of La<br />

Sagrada Familia.<br />

And, yes, Gaudi built La Sagrada Familia for<br />

God, but he designed La Obrera Cooperativa<br />

Mataronense for humble workers and<br />

their families. His inspiring, gracious and<br />

unforgettable architecture honoured both his<br />

clients here on earth and above in heaven.<br />

David J Thompson is one of the most published<br />

writers in the USA about the co-operative sector.<br />

He has visited a number of Gaudi’s buildings<br />

in Barcelona and written about Spanish cooperatives.<br />

He has an MA in architecture and<br />

urban planning from the University of California<br />

at Los Angeles where he was given the Dean’s<br />

Award for Community Service. He is president<br />

of the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation and<br />

a member of the US Cooperative Hall of Fame.<br />

David has written and contributed to a number of<br />

books and over 400 articles about cooperatives.<br />

See npllc.org and community.coop<br />

48 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>

www.cch.coop cooperative.housing #coophousing22<br />

Sustainability –<br />

rethink:reset’<br />

<strong>2022</strong><br />

14-16 <strong>October</strong><br />

<strong>2022</strong><br />

Chesford Grange Hotel<br />

Kenilworth CV8 2LD<br />

The 27th Annual Conference of the Confederation<br />

of Co-operative Housing is an opportunity for the<br />

co-operative housing sector to come together to<br />

discuss how we rethink the future and reset where<br />

we are going in terms of regulation, sustainability,<br />

net zero, and much more.<br />

The conference brings together over 120<br />

housing co-operators, community led housing<br />

professionals and those with an interest in<br />

housing co-operatives and other forms of<br />

community led housing from across England,<br />

Scotland and Wales.<br />

Please scan the QR code to find out more<br />

about the conference.<br />

Exhibitor<br />

opportunities<br />

Our exhibition stand packages<br />

range from £500 to £850,<br />

other options are:<br />

• Advert in our<br />

Conference Guide<br />

• Flyer or promotional item<br />

in conference packs<br />

• Bursary sponsorship<br />

• And more<br />

email: jane@cch.coop<br />

for more information<br />

and prices

DIARY<br />

Do you have a co-operative<br />

event – taking place in person,<br />

online, or as a hybrid – to be<br />

featured?<br />

Tell us at: events@thenews.coop<br />

Cooperative IMPACT Conference<br />

5-6 <strong>October</strong> (Washington DC and online)<br />

Under the theme “Forward, Together”<br />

NCBA CLUSA’s IMPACT <strong>2022</strong> will<br />

challenge co-ops to come together and<br />

capture a generational opportunity:<br />

applying the lessons of the past two years<br />

to our work as we move forward.<br />

bit.ly/3APetY4<br />

Co-op Party Conference<br />

8-9 <strong>October</strong> (Leeds)<br />

From Crisis to Co-operation: the Co-op<br />

Party’s annual conference will bring<br />

together members and supporters from<br />

across the co-operative and labour<br />

movements to learn more about its work,<br />

help shape Party policy and discuss<br />

priorities and campaigns.<br />

party.coop/event/annconf022<br />

Co-ops and social enterprises<br />

12 <strong>October</strong> (London)<br />

A session to better understand the terms<br />

Co-operatives and Social Enterprises and<br />

how to access resources available.<br />

bit.ly/3tUey9h<br />

CCH Annual Conference<br />

14-16 <strong>October</strong> (Warwick)<br />

The Confederation of Co-operative<br />

Housing will bring together the UK’s<br />

housing co-op housing sector under the<br />

theme Sustainability – rethink:reset<br />

cch.coop/cch-annualconference-<strong>2022</strong><br />

World Coop Management conference<br />

17-18 <strong>October</strong> (Brazil)<br />

Coonecta organises WCM<strong>2022</strong> as the<br />

world’s biggest co-operative sector<br />

management event, covering innovation,<br />

technology and practical learning for coop<br />

thinkers and leaders.<br />

wcm.coop/WCM22<br />

Cooperative Ways Forward<br />

20-21 <strong>October</strong> (Manchester)<br />

Over 150 co-operators will gather at the<br />

city’s Central Hall to share information<br />

and strengthen the co-operative networks<br />

that are needed to act on pressing issues<br />

including climate justice and how to<br />

build effective alliances to address the<br />

need for systemic change<br />

waysforward.coop/about/<br />

ICMIF Centenary Conference<br />

25-28 <strong>October</strong> <strong>2022</strong> (Rome)<br />

The ICMIF Centenary Conference will be<br />

hosted by the Unipol Group, an ICMIF<br />

founding member, in Rome, where the<br />

organisation was formed.<br />

icmif.org/icmif-conference<br />

Owning the Future<br />

4-6 November (Rio de Janeiro)<br />

Organised by the Platform Cooperativism<br />

Consortium, the event will look at how<br />

platform co-ops in the Global South can<br />

scale to successfully compete with large<br />

tech companies.<br />

bit.ly/3QbdExI<br />

Locality Convention<br />

8-9 November <strong>2022</strong> (Sheffield)<br />

Locality’s annual convention brings<br />

together people who believe in the power<br />

of community to explore how best to<br />

build thriving neighbourhoods and how<br />

policymakers can support this.<br />

locality.org.uk/events/<br />

convention-21-2<br />

Co-operative Women’s Voices:<br />

Tiziana O’Hara<br />

15 November (11am-12 noon, online)<br />

CWV is a series of monthly interviews<br />

with women from the global co-op<br />

movement. November’s guest is Tiziana<br />

O’Hara, from Northern Ireland’s<br />

Cooperative Alternatives.<br />

bit.ly/3SiYcAY<br />

Young people and the future of<br />

cooperation in Europe<br />

21 November (Cardiff)<br />

Cwmpas and Cooperatives Europe will<br />

welcome co-operators from across Europe<br />

to explore the role of young people in the<br />

co-operative movement.<br />

bit.ly/3DM2c8I<br />

Practitioners Forum<br />

23 November (Manchester)<br />

Organised by Co-operatives UK, the<br />

Practitioners Forum is a professional<br />

training and development opportunity,<br />

featuring specialist forums.<br />

bit.ly/3LCUHTz<br />

50 | OCTOBER <strong>2022</strong>



Wednesday 23 November<br />

The Studio, 51 Lever St,<br />

Manchester, M1 1FN<br />

Book your places now at<br />


E X C L U S I V E<br />




3 nights<br />

from only<br />

£439<br />

per person<br />

Includes<br />

Northern<br />

Lights cruise &<br />

Ritual Experience<br />

at Sky Lagoon<br />

CALL 01922 896534<br />





All prices are in GBP per person and include direct return flights. Hold Luggage & transfers can be added at supplement. Departure from London, other departures are available including Luton &<br />

Manchester. Stay at a 3* Fosshotel Baron with daily breakfast in Reykjavik, this holiday includes a Northern Lights cruise & Ritual Experience at Sky Lagoon. Prices start from only £439pp for 3 nights based on

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